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  • Three Ways 60 Minutes’ Undercover Investigation Is Nothing Like CMP’s Deceptively Edited, Ideologically Motivated Smear Campaign

    60 Minutes Producer:  “We Can Never Lie About Who We Are Or Why We’re Someplace” And Were “Prepared To Come Clean If Confronted”

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Last summer, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of deceptively edited videos, baselessly alleging that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue-- earning CMP and its founder, David Daleiden, the title of Media Matters’ 2015 Misinformer of the Year. Although CMP’s work has been largely discredited, the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives has consistently cited illegally obtained and entirely unauthenticated documents provided by CMP as evidence.

    This week, CBS News’ 60 Minutes released their report, “Dialing for Dollars,”  an undercover  investigation using hidden camera footage to report on the “relentless pressure on members of Congress to constantly raise money.” Although 60 Minutes conducted their investigation in a highly-transparent way -- releasing an accompanying video report about their methods called “60 Minutes’ Decision To Use A Hidden Camera This Week” -- right-wing media figures have already compared this investigatory journalism to CMP’s deceptive work.

    In a series of tweets, Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway wrote: “Good news everyone! OK for journalists to secretly film again” and noted that CBS “not only edited the video, but used B roll for context (like we allow for 100% of non-fetal market stories)":

    Hemingway’s comments were also picked up and tweeted by the anti-choice news site, LifeNews which said “so CBS News can use a hidden camera but pro-life people can’t?”:

    Daleiden also retweeted Hemingway:

    CMP and the right-wing media who carry water for its work have defended CMP’s deceptively edited videos as “investigatory journalism.” Notably, Fox News hosts Steve Doocy and Bill O’Reilly have both compared CMP’s work to that of 60 Minutes. During a January 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Doocy argued that “journalists use these [undercover] techniques everyday” and gave the examples of “60 Minutes” and “20/20.” Similarly, in a March 6 segment from The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly alleged that if Daleiden was indicted for using fraudulent IDs, “all of 60 Minutes would be in jail, because they did stings all the time.”

    The form and substance of 60 Minutes’ investigation, however, was radically different than CMP’s ideologically motivated smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. In the supplementary report explaining their methodology and rationale for going undercover, correspondent Norah O’Donnell and 60 Minutes producer Pat Shevlin explained that “the decision to use a hidden camera wasn’t taken lightly” and that they were “scrupulous” about the process.

    There are at least three key ways that 60 Minutes’ use of hidden cameras differs from CMP’s: 60 Minutes did not conceal their identities to gain access, did not identify people on camera without consent, and did not alter their material to fit an ideological goal.

    1. 60 Minutes Producer: “We Can Never Lie About Who We Are Or ... Give A False Reason For Why You’re There”

    Unlike CMP’s deceptively edited videos -- where Daleiden and his associates intentionally misled clinic staff about their identities and intentions, steps which included creating a fake company and fake identities -- 60 Minutes never portrayed themselves fraudulently or lied about who they were or what they were doing to the people they filmed. In the accompanying 60 Minutes Overtime video report Shevlin said 60 Minutes “can never lie about who we are or why we’re some place” and that if you’re “challenged, you can’t give a false reason for why you’re there.”

    60 Minutes representatives gained access to the congressional call center legally and without misrepresenting themselves. CMP, on the other hand, cannot make such a claim. On January 26 a Houston grand jury indicted David Daleiden and one of his associates for gaining access to a Planned Parenthood clinic under deceptive pretenses using false identification. Meanwhile, over 13 state investigations have consistently cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

    2. 60 Minutes Did Not Identify People Filmed Without Their Consent

    In accordance with the advice from lawyers, 60 Minutes did not release footage with “identifiable faces” to the public.

    In CMP’s deceptively edited videos, however, Daleiden not only filmed providers without their consent he also provided additional identifying information. These efforts to identify providers plays into a long history of anti-choice violence against abortion providers.

    In CMP’s deceptively edited videos, however, Daleiden not only filmed providers without their consent he also provided additional identifying information including their names. These efforts to identify providers by name plays into a long history of anti-choice groups targeting abortion providers for harassment which has led to doctors who were later murdered or shot by anti-choice activists.

    More recently, the Congressional select panel has issued wide-ranging subpoenas targeting not only abortion providers but also "researchers, graduate students, laboratory technicians, and administrative staff who are in any way involved in fetal tissue research." Democrats and reproductive rights advocates have warned that by collecting these names "Congress could be putting lives in danger."

    3. 60 Minutes Did Not Alter Their Material To Fit An Ideological Goal

    In the 60 Minutes report, correspondent Norah O’Donnell investigates a congressional representatives being told their “first responsibility” is not to serve their constituents, but instead to “spend around 30 hours a week” in a call center soliciting donations. O’Donnell explained the purpose in seeing these call centers, as that’s how “lawmakers are spending a lot of their time … that they could be in their office on Capitol Hill doing the people’s business.”

    Although CMP has argued their intentions were to bring a matter of public interest to the attention of authorities -- including their claims that laws involving sale of fetal tissue were being broken -- a February 5 decision by federal judge William H. Orrick strongly rebuts this claim. Orrick issued a preliminary injunction barring CMP from releasing further videos utilizing footage of National Abortion Federation (NAF) employees. According to Orrick, this injunction was justified because CMP did not “-- as Daleiden repeatedly asserts -- use widely accepted investigatory journalism techniques” to reveal a matter of public interest.

    Instead, Orrick argued that CMP relied on “repeated instances of fraud, including the manufacture of fake documents, the creation and registration with the state of California a fake company, and repeated false statements to a numerous NAF representatives and NAF members in order to infiltrate NAF and implement their Human Capital Project.” Orrick concluded that because of these deceptive means, the resulting videos were not “pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions … of criminal conduct.”

    CMP has removed material from their videos that would have disproven their allegations, inserted misleading images into their work, and coached testimony from a supposed witness to criminal activity.

    60 Minutes’ reporting -- and their effort to make clear why it meets common standards of journalistic integrity -- reaffirms the findings of many other journalists and media ethicists who argue that CMP’s work “can be called many things, but ‘journalism’ probably isn’t one of them.”

  • Right-Wing Media Keep Rehashing The Xenophobic Smear That Immigrants Bring Diseases

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Conservative media frequently push the debunked claim that immigrants pose a threat to public health, merely changing the disease to fit their narrative. Fox News repackaged a popular nativist and anti-immigrant smear claiming that the child migrants from Central America were "an illegal health risk" and were bringing diseases into the country according to internal CDC emails.

    On the April 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, anchor Heather Nauert reported that "disease" had come with the "thousands of immigrant children" who came to the United States in 2014, fleeing violence from their home countries. The assertion was based on documents recently made public by the conservative activist group Judicial Watch showing officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) coordinating responses for the possibility of unaccompanied minors arriving with tuberculosis:

    While the CDC acknowledged that “a small number of cases of TB have been identified,” it also noted that “CDC believes the unaccompanied children arriving from Central America pose little risk of spreading infectious diseases to the general public.”

    Similar claims to Fox News' have been debunked by experts previously. In 2015 the fact-checking website PolitiFact examined Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's claim that "tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border" and wrote that "The experts we contacted agreed that there is no evidence of a massive influx of infections across the border" as a consequence of undocumented immigration. An NBC News report explained that, in fact, most of the illnesses found in unaccompanied child immigrants were “nothing unusual,” including the common cold and head lice. NBC also noted that mechanisms were put in place so that arrivals are screened for tuberculosis -- which is not casually transmitted -- and facilities with the capacity to quarantine were made available. According to the most recent data from the World Health Organization, immunization rates for tuberculosis in Central America are above 80 percent. Tuberculosis in the United States has had a declining incidence for decades, with a relatively small increase of 157 more cases in 2015, which, according to the CDC, cannot be pinned on a single variable like undocumented immigration, since funding for prevention has been reduced or stagnant nationwide.

    However, the trope of immigrants carrying diseases to the United States is often perpetuated by anti-immigrant and nativist groups hoping to stoke fear and resentment towards immigrants. According to one expert, “There is a long, sad and shameful tradition in the United States in using fear of disease, contagion and contamination to stigmatize immigrants and foreigners.” Fox News and other conservative media figures -- including Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham -- have pushed this smear, blaming immigrants for diseases that range from leprosy, measles, chickenpox, and dengue to enterovirus and ebola, despite the absence of evidence showing a significant correlation. The Southern Poverty Law Center has explained that these claims "generally originate with modern nativist groups and ideologues." They are then presented by right-wing media as factual news, without the benefit of context or the opinions of experts that have explained how the threat that undocumented immigrants place on public health is "wildly overstated."

  • Rush Limbaugh Attacks Trump Claim That GOP Delegate Selection Process Is “Rigged”

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Limbaugh

    Rush Limbaugh ridiculed complaints that the Republican National Convention delegate selection process is rigged, a claim that has been repeatedly made by Donald Trump.

    In the last few weeks, Trump and his allies have made what the New York Times has characterized as “an aggressive effort to undermine the Republican nominating process by framing it as rigged and corrupt,” as rival candidate Ted Cruz has “outmaneuvered him in delegate contests in states like Colorado, North Dakota and Iowa.” The result of Cruz’s moves could result in Trump being short of the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

    Trump complained, “Our Republican system is absolutely rigged. It’s a phony deal.” His campaign recently hired Roger Stone associate Paul Manafort to oversee efforts to keep delegates in line ahead of the convention. The Times said the hire was “a sign that Mr. Trump is intensifying his focus on delegate wrangling as his opponents mount a tenacious effort to deny him the 1,237 delegates he would need to secure the Republican nomination.”

    On the April 25 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh attacked claims that the process is being rigged or that the delegate fight is beyond traditional campaign activity.

    Limbaugh told his audience, “nobody is being cheated,” pointing out that “I'm really trying to get you to not think that this particular system is being rigged or you're being cheated. You're not, this is how politics is.”

    Limbaugh noted that the strategy being used by the Cruz campaign “has always been the way it happens,” adding, “There is nothing happening this year that has not happened before in terms of delegate selection, allocation or what have you.”

    He concluded, “I think you've got a lot of people in the media spreading all this, just to incite people, just to get them all fired up and charged up and just spread this narrative that there's cheating going on when either they don't understand it, or they want the fireworks, they want charged up and angry callers calling in raising hell for the sake of it, ratings or what have you.”

    Despite Limbaugh blaming “the media” for “spreading all this,” it has been Trump himself who has promoted and repeatedly made this claim about the delegate process.

    Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight notes that Trump’s complaints that the system is rigged have largely been echoed in the media, and have helped to increase support for him in polling of Republican primary voters.

  • NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Says Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Disavowed The U.S. Constitution” In 2012

    LaPierre Cites Interview In Which Ginsburg Actually Praised The “Wonderful Words” Of The “Genius” U.S. Constitution

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre distorted past comments by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a column warning that “our guns and our culture would be a favored target for eradication” if Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are successful in the 2016 elections.

    In order to attack the possibility of Clinton being elected president and filling multiple vacancies on the Supreme Court with nominees like Justice Ginsburg, LaPierre smeared Justice Ginsburg by distorting her past comments about what new democracies should consider when adopting a constitution.

    In 2012, Ginsburg traveled to Egypt to offer advice to the country as it began the process of adopting a constitution. In an interview, Ginsburg said she advised Egypt to look at “all the constitution-writing that has gone on since the end of World War II” and that she “would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” Ginsburg then singled out the South African constitution, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the European Convention on Human Rights as modern examples for drafting constitutions.

    During the interview, Ginsburg also praised the U.S. Constitution, saying, “The United States in comparison to Egypt is a very new nation, and yet we have the oldest written Constitution still enforced in the world. And it's a Constitution that starts out with three wonderful words: It's we the people.” Ginsburg praised the U.S. Constitution several other times during the interview, calling the document “an instrument that endured” and referencing “the genius of the Constitution.”

    But in his monthly “Standing Guard” column in the May 2016 edition of America’s 1st Freedom, LaPierre smeared Ginsburg as part of his rallying cry that the NRA "must defeat Hillary Clinton."

    LaPierre wrote of Ginsburg, “In an Egyptian television interview in January 2011 [sic], she disavowed the U.S. Constitution.” Distorting Ginsburg’s remarks, LaPierre added, “You might ask, why would a U.S. Supreme Court justice prefer another constitution to that which was forged in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago? What makes the South African Constitution so superior?”

    LaPierre went on to claim that the South African Constitution encourages “civil disarmament,” writing, “It’s senseless, but here we have a U.S. Supreme Court justice who might find herself in the majority embracing the very essence of undefined and unknown ‘social justice.’”

    LaPierre’s smear of Ginsburg is recycled from claims the NRA made about the 2012 elections and the prospect of President Obama’s reelection. The NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, released an article that distorted the Egypt comments to argue “most troubling of all is the possibility that if elected to a second term, President Obama could appoint even more justices who share Justice Ginsburg's views.”

    During the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, LaPierre also attacked Ginsburg in a speech, calling her a “giddy school girl” for hugging Obama at the State of the Union and again distorting her Egypt comments.

  • Donald Trump Returning To Hannity For Another Softball Interview

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Fox News’ Sean Hannity is slated to interview Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on the April 25 edition of his show, for Trump’s reaction “to Kasich and Cruz teaming up against him” in upcoming primary elections. Hannity has received widespread criticism for his relationship with Donald Trump and has repeatedly admitted he gives “soft” interviews to Republican candidates.

    Hannity has received widespread and bipartisan criticism for giving Trump a “friendly outlet” and treating him “in a way that’s gentle in order to get him to come back.” On April 11,ThinkProgress pointed out that Trump has appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show “an astonishing 41 times since he announced his campaign,” giving him a nearly yearlong platform to target GOP voters. Conservative website RedState claimed ThinkProgress' report showed that Hannity “has become, for all intents and purposes, part of Trump’s campaign apparatus.” On April 23, the Associated Press reported that Hannity had a “nasty spat” with Cruz “following criticism from both the left and right about his interviews with Donald Trump" (Hannity will also interview Cruz tonight).

    After being criticized for being a “very soft interviewer,” Hannity defended himself by asserting, “I’m not a journalist, I’m a talk show host.” Hannity doubled down on his radio show, saying he’s not critical of Trump or Cruz because he wants the Republican nominee to win. He has also said he “absolutely plead[s] guilty” to “going soft in interviews on Republicans.”

    Indeed, the neologism "Hannitize" was coined to describe efforts by conservatives "to clean up a messy situation with a softball interview, typically one conducted by Sean Hannity." Trump has frequently appeared on Hannity's program to receive positive treatment for his efforts to rebound from gaffes or scandals.

  • As Trump Tries To Remake His Image, Why Isn’t The Press Mocking Him As Inauthentic?

    Calling Clinton A Phony Has Been Media Staple For Years

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Have we ever seen a presidential campaign be so open about trying to unveil a candidate makeover the way we’ve seen Donald Trump’s team tip off his new look in recent days?

    Huddling with nervous Republican elites, Trump’s senior aide Paul Manafort recently assured them the candidate’s “image is going to change,” according to a New York Times report. "You'll start to see more depth of the person, the real person. You'll see a real different way," Manafort stressed, according to the Associated Press. Trump to date has been “projecting an image" and "the part that he's been playing is now evolving,” the aide guaranteed members of the Republican National Committee.

    No equivocation here: Trump’s changing gears, and the person you’ve seen up to now has been putting on an elaborate act. 

    The attempted image makeover comes as Trump battles historically awful favorable ratings heading into the general election season.

    But the brazenness -- the openness -- of the move is startling simply because the Trump campaign seems to fear no backlash from the press for orchestrating an image makeover. And so far, Trump aides appear to be right. Because unlike previous instances when pundits and reporters thought they caught prominent candidates trying to change their stripes (especially when Al Gore and Hillary Clinton were the media targets), most of the press hasn’t erupted to denounce Trump for being a would-be charlatan. They haven’t cried out about his lack of genuineness.

    The fact is, much of the political press has spent the last nine months touting Trump’s supposed authenticity and praising his allegedly candid campaigning style. But now faced with evidence to the contrary, and faced with evidence coming directly from Trump’s campaign, the same press corps seems unwilling to puncture the previous Mr. Authentic storyline. The press seems unwilling to admit that perhaps they’ve been duped by Trump and the “image” he projected.  

    Even after noting the candidate’s pending image change, National Public Radio stressed, “Still, a subdued, presidential Trump will likely continue to be a unique brand of presidential candidate.”

    So even if Trump transparently sheds a new political skin, he’ll still be a “unique brand.”

    All of this runs contrary to the Beltway press’ well-established rules: If you attempt an image makeover during the campaign season, you will be ridiculed as a phony and a fraud and as someone who’s surrounded by so many overeager handlers that you’re incapable of understanding who you really are.

    For the campaign press, there really is no greater sin than being a phony; than being out of touch with your core beliefs. (Even Mitt Romney got singed by the press in 2012 when he was seen as trying to pull off a costume change mid-campaign.)

    Those have been the clearly marked ground rules. But for Trump? Apparently those rules don’t apply the same way, because his campaign is trying to retool the candidate’s image, yet the move hasn’t received instant and outraged pushback from the press.

    In fact, the media subtext I’m picking up is that Trump is smart to try to alter his image; that it’s a savvy move on his part to better position himself for the general election.

    “The change in tone is absolutely necessary,” wrote the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, who noted the new Trump incarnation on display during his New York primary victory speech “was markedly more disciplined, gentler and more appealing than the version of Trump we've seen for much of the last year.”

    So there’s no denial that an attempted makeover is underway. Everyone sees it. What’s missing is the outsized mockery.

    It's true that Trump’s new image has sparked some media denunciations, sprinkled around in recent days if you go looking for them. And yes, some members of the media have claimed Trump’s makeover is a bogus one and that the loudmouth candidate won’t be able to suddenly become presidential. But that’s different than calling out Trump for being inauthentic and for being a phony for trying on a new look.

    In contrast, when it came to Gore and Clinton image denunciations, you didn’t need to search them out. They arrived in buckets, scooped up from tidal waves of media condemnations.

    The dominant media theme from the 2000 campaign was that Gore was a phony, forever in search of a new image.

    For instance, during the 2000 campaign the press spun a tall tale about how Gore had supposedly been counseled to start wearing more “earth tone” colored clothing, and then laughed and belittled the candidate about it for weeks and months. For the press, it was a perfect example confirming their hunch that Gore just didn’t know who he was. (And don’t get me started on the media’s insane pile-on when, post-campaign, Gore grew a beard.)

    As for Hillary Clinton, there’s an entire press canon on the topic of her supposed lack of authenticity. The Beltway press for years has worked in unison with Republicans on this theme, working to depict Clinton as a calculating fraud.

    Remember when she teared up and let some emotion show on the eve of the New Hampshire primary in 2008? The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd responded with one of the meanest, most spiteful columns of that campaign season. (Headline: “Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back To The White House?”)

    Late last summer there was another wave of Clinton’s-not-authentic coverage. The Wall Street Journal suggested so much of what she does sounds "scripted and poll-tested." Politico declared she's a White House hopeful "with an authenticity problem." The Washington Post insisted, "Her campaign has struggled to present her as authentic and relatable." And McClatchy Newspapers asked "Is Hillary Clinton Authentic Enough for Voters," and likened her to Richard Nixon.

    Or you can just Google the evergreen topic:

    Hillary Clinton's inauthentic self - The Washington Post

    Hillary's Authentic Inauthenticity - National Review Online

    Maybe Hillary Clinton Isn't Fake Enough | New Republic

    Hillary Clinton the Inauthentic | RealClearPolitics

    So where are the judgmental denunciations of Trump’s attempted image makeover? Where’s the media finger wagging about how Trump doesn’t really know who he is?

  • Fox News Doctor Proposes A Harmful New “Treatment” For Transgender Children

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Fox News "Medical A Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow speculated wildly about medical care for transgender children, proposing his own harmful treatments that go against scientific evidence and professional standards from mainstream medical associations.

    In a rant where he compared being transgender to pretending to be 65 to get Medicare, Ablow proposed injecting transgender children with hormones corresponding to their gender assigned at birth to “go with nature” and make them “feel more comfortable.” Ablow’s proposed “treatment” is his own extreme variation of discredited ex-gay “conversion therapy” which falsely claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Ablow’s suggestion is reminiscent of 1940’s era “treatments” where lesbians were forced to submit to estrogen injections and men were given testosterone to “cure” them of being gay. These type of “reparative therapy” practices have been rejected for decades by all mainstream medical associations.

    While Ablow has a history of attacking transgender children with extreme, inaccurate claims, experts contradict his talking points. The American Psychological Association has stated that it is "not helpful to force [a transgender child] to act in a more gender-conforming way." Family rejection of transgender youth has been linked to a series of negative health consequences.

    From the April 25 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Target, you know the big store? Now the target of some controversy after joining the so-called bathroom bill debate, saying, quote, "Inclusivity is a core belief at Target and we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity."

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): But many customers are taking issue with that. Nearly 500,000 people have signed a petition to boycott Target. Fox News medical A-team psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow joins us now with his take on the issue. Good morning Dr. Ablow.

    KEITH ABLOW: Good morning, how are you guys?

    EARHARDT: We're great, thank you. What is your take on this?

    ABLOW: Well, here's the bottom line. The reason that the bathroom bill is center stage in the presidential campaign and now in a national boycott of Target [[of]] that's up to about 500,000 people is because it represents more than bathrooms. We're not just talking about who is going to use which restroom. We're talking about whether closely held opinion of an individual will be allowed to overcome scientific data and history. Right, so if you believe that you are of one gender, but your DNA and your physical appearance and your physical anatomy are evidence that you are of another gender, and there's that conflict, then if we allow people culturally to dictate terms in our culture, then we also by extension may be in a position where we allow people to say that they're 65 when they're 45 and get Medicare, allow people to get tattooed head-to-foot and say I'm a black person. Now would that be offensive to black people, if that person got affirmative action preferences at school? I think it might. Why? Because there's history. There's culture, there's reality. This is the leading edge. Some would argue, I might, of an unraveling of our culture and perhaps our ability to plan for the future as a species.

    DOOCY: So you're suggesting that people can select their gender, they could select their race, they could select their age. How do we get to this place?

    ABLOW: We got to this place because we care about people. We don't want to hurt people's feelings. OK, I understand that. We're also too politically correct. But look, there's not a lot of scientific evidence that it's better to approach transgender youth with the opposite hormone because we inject them with massive doses of testosterone if they're female to say look we'll make you more comfortable with your chosen gender. You know, we don't even explore, should it be more estrogen? Should we go with nature and say maybe we'll make you more female, you'll feel more comfortable? There aren't these explorations. We don't treat with psychiatric medicines by and large to say maybe this is a bit of a fixed and false belief. Not different than if you thought you were black person when you are caucasian. The science isn't even there. So if we have a draft, God forbid, and we're trying to save our nation, are we really prepared for 18-year-olds and 20-year-olds to assert that they are really more like 12-year-olds? They feel it. They're immature. Their whole families have said look, much too immature to be drafted. That's where we're headed. Do we want to head there?

  • Meet The Press Panel Fooled By Trump’s Temporary, Moderate Position On Anti-LGBT “Bathroom Bills”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Meet the Press host Chuck Todd and panelists on his NBC show cited Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s claim that he opposes anti-LGBT “bathroom bills” as evidence that Trump is moderating his views as he looks toward the general election. But at no point was it mentioned that Trump backpedaled later, saying that states should decide whether to enact “bathroom bills” that discriminate against their LGBT residents.

    “Bathroom bills” -- legislation that often aims to ban transgender people from public restrooms that do not correspond with the gender on their birth certificate -- are increasingly in the news as 44 bills in 16 different states targeting transgender people have been introduced as of February 2016. An anti-LGBT “bathroom bill” in North Carolina, HB 2, has come under particular scrutiny.

    Trump commented on North Carolina’s law during an April 21 appearance on NBC’s Today, apparently opposing the law by stating, “there have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble. … . Leave it the way it is.” But he reversed himself during an appearance on Fox News’ Hannity later that day, stating, “I think that local communities and states should make the decision.” In Trump’s new view, states would be within their rights to pass discriminatory anti-LGBT legislation.

    Media coverage which cites Trump’s first position on “bathroom bills” while omitting his later comment comes as Trump tries to convince the media that he will be more “presidential” throughout the rest of his presidential campaign.

    NBC's Meet the Press seemed to fall for Trump’s ploy, with Todd referencing Trump’s first answer to NBC to ask, “Is Trump pivoting to a general election?”

    During a panel discussion of Trump’s comment to NBC, Republican strategist and NBC News political analyst Nicole Wallace said, “Trump’s answer made so much sense, and I think what is also on the line in this cycle is the power and the saliency of social issues, and I think if Trump wins it delivers a massive blow to the idea that you have to be up and down on social issues to be the Republican nominee.”

    Robert Costa, a reporter for The Washington Post, added, “Trump’s answer tells us a lot about how he would be in a general election, this is someone who has not climbed the ladder, forming relationships with social conservatives along the way.”

    Costa went on to claim of Trump, “he has relationships with all kinds of people, he’s not just someone who surrounds himself with Republicans and conservatives, and that actually strangely worries Democrats, that he would be appealing to moderates.”

    Wallace ended the segment by saying, “Trump’s answer got him a lot of credit with a lot of people,” with Todd agreeing, “It did.”

    During the segment an on-screen graphic read, “Trump Campaign: More Accepting On ‘Bathroom Laws’.”

    At no point was there mention that Trump had amended his stance to favor allowing states to pass discriminatory anti-LGBT laws or that Trump has for months said that as president he would sign into law the First Amendment Defense Act, a piece of Republican-sponsored legislation that would nullify existing federal LGBT protections and allow anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.

  • The O’Reilly Factor Peddles Racist Myths About High Incarceration Rate For Drug Violations 

    Eric Bolling: “Maybe More Blacks Are Committing More Of The Same Crimes”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    During a segment on drug incarceration, Fox News’ Eric Bolling suggested the higher incarceration rates for African Americans are not about race, but instead because “blacks committed more of the same crimes.” From the April 22 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

    BILL O’REILLY (HOST): I feel very strongly that if my children were addicted to heroin and I knew who was selling them the heroin, I would not consider it a nonviolent action. How about you?

    ERIC BOLLING: No, I think you have to go hard on the drug dealers, distributors.

    O’REILLY: Even the punks on the street?

    BOLLING: Even the punks on the street. I don’t think it has anything to do with race, it has to do with what they are doing. They are providing access for kids, people to hurt themselves.

    O’REILLY: Why does the left see it differently and is trying to diminish the harmfulness of their actions?

    BOLLING: Well Russell Simmons tried to make it about race. He said more blacks are incarcerated than whites therefore --  

    O’REILLY: Well it's a big issue.

    BOLLING: Because maybe more blacks are committing more of the same crimes. It's still illegal to sell heroin. It's still illegal to sell opiates.

    O’REILLY: May not be much longer, Colmes, the way the trends are going in this country.

    According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, prison sentences of African American men were almost 20 percent longer than white men for similar crimes. The Wall Street Journal attributed the gap to judicial discretion, restored by the Supreme Court in 2005. In a September 2014 article, the Washington Post reported that, while whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rate, and whites are more likely to sell, blacks are “far more likely” to be arrested for sale and possession.

    Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has a history of campaigning against drug sentencing reform, despite the evidence that current laws target minorities. O’Reilly has previously stated that drug sentencing reform sends a message that drugs aren’t dangerous.

  • NBC News Describes Trump As “One Of The More LGBT-Friendly” Republicans, Despite His Anti-LGBT Positions

    Trump’s Support For State-Sponsored Anti-LGBT Laws Does Not Make Him LGBT Friendly

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    In a segment discussing North Carolina's discriminatory anti-LGBT "bathroom bill" legislation, NBC's Hallie Jackson claimed that Donald Trump "is considered one of the more LGBT-friendly Republican candidates." Jackson’s misleading description of Trump as LGBT friendly comes as the Republican front-runner attempts to re-brand himself as a more moderate candidate heading into the general election and ignores Trump’s long-standing position as an opponent of marriage equality.

    While Jackson described Trump as “one of the more LGBT friendly Republican candidates,” a closer look finds his stance in line with supporters of the law. During an April 21 interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Trump said "local communities and states" should be able pass discriminatory legislation barring transgender people from using a bathroom associated with the gender they identify with. Trump’s stance that states should be allowed to pass these discriminatory laws is in line with North Carolina’s passing of the state-sponsored anti-LGBT law:

    HALLIE JACKSON: Ted Cruz, in a new online video, taking aim at Donald Trump's criticism of a transgender bathroom ban in North Carolina.

    TED CRUZ: This is not a reasonable debate over public policy. This is political correctness run amok.

    JACKSON: Cruz, using Trump's comments to try to boost his own conservative credentials, while hitting his rivals with a new online polling showing 64 percent of Republicans support the ban. But some of Trump's backers aren't bothered by it.

    [...]

    JACKSON: A top Trump aide, dismissing Cruz's criticism, telling NBC News the senator is simply trying to stay relevant. Trump himself, not backing down.

    DONALD TRUMP: Local communities and states should make the decision. And I feel very strongly about that.

    JACKSON: While Trump is considered one of the more LGBT-friendly Republican candidates, he hasn't talked much about those issues on the campaign trail. Not a typical part of his stump speech, and not mentioned tonight at his rally here in Delaware.

    Jackson's NBC Nightly News report ignores Trump's history of bigoted and extreme positions on LGBT issues, including his support for the anti-LGBT "First Amendment Defense Act," Trump's promise to "strongly consider" appointing Supreme Court justices to overturn its recent ruling in support of marriage equality, and his previous support for Kim Davis, a Kentucky County clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    Furthermore, the NBC segment plays into comments made by Trump’s new campaign manager, Paul Manafort. During an April 21 meeting of Republican leaders, Manafort attempted to assure those assembled that Trump’s outrageous rhetoric was the candidate simply “projecting an image” and that “the image is going to change.”