During his speech at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner on April 25, President Obama invited comedian Keegan-Michael Key to reprise the Comedy Central bit in which Key plays Luther, Obama's "anger translator." What followed was highly amusing -- but also quite revealing of the President's frustration with how the media covers climate change.
As he spoke to an audience of thousands of journalists, media executives, politicians, and celebrities, Obama began the sketch by emphasizing that "we count on the press to shed light on the most important issues of the day." That line provided an opening for Luther to piercingly mock Fox News' fearmongering that "Sharia law is coming to Cleveland" and CNN's "wall-to-wall Ebola coverage." He even landed a few good one-liners about Ted Cruz and Hilary Clinton as they pursue contributions for their presidential campaigns.
But the skit took a noticeable turn when Obama told the media-heavy crowd that "we do need to stay focused on some big challenges, like climate change." After Luther joked that drought conditions have made California "look like a trailer for the new Mad Max movie up in there," it quickly became apparent that Obama needed no assistance from his anger translator to spell out how the media and climate change deniers in Congress are failing to take this threat seriously:
OBAMA: I mean, look at what's happening right now. Every serious scientist says we need to act. The Pentagon says it's a national security risk. Miami floods on a sunny day and instead of doing anything about it, we have elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate.
LUTHER: Okay, Mr. President. Okay, I think they've got it, bro.
OBAMA: It is crazy! What about our kids! What kind of stupid, short-sighted, irresponsible, bull--
Luther cut Obama off before he engaged in any presidential profanity, but the President had already gotten his point across. As a less angry Obama put it in June 2014, "the media doesn't spend a lot of time covering climate change and letting average Americans know how it could impact our future."
Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy detailed the entanglements between several media properties owned by Rupert Murdoch that are promoting the upcoming book Clinton Cash from conservative activist Peter Schweizer.
In an April 27 column headlined "In Defense of the Clinton Foundation," Newsmax CEO and editor Christopher Ruddy -- who is himself a donor to the Foundation -- discussed the allegations made against the charity in Clinton Cash, which were recently hyped in a Fox News special. He writes that the claims in the book, which suggests the Clintons used donations to influence foreign policy, are "unsubstantiated, unconnected, and baseless," and tells journalists to "follow the money" when discussing the book itself, warning that "where there's smear, there's not always fact."
Ruddy notes, "The sister companies of News Corp and 21st Century Fox own HarperCollins, which published Peter Schweizer's book; they own The Wall Street Journal, which first raised the issue of the foreign donations; they own the New York Post, which broke the details about the Schweizer book; and they own Fox News, which gave the story oxygen and legs."
He adds, "With so much media mojo from one company, there is no doubt they will be doing some pretty good 'cashing in' from the many millions of dollars their new best-seller will generate."
Schweizer has a long history of errors and retractions, and the stories released from Clinton Cash fail to implicate former Secretary Clinton, President Clinton, or the Foundation in any wrongdoing. However, Murdoch properties have still promoted its claims.
Newsmax is a conservative publication, which has gone after the Clintons and other Democrats and progressives for years. But in the course of writing about the Clinton Cash allegations, Ruddy explains that he doesn't want to go back to the 1990s, "when one allegation led to a daisy-chain effect, and the GOP ended up looking bad as the Democrats kept winning."
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough suggested that the State Department under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton removed Algeria from a list of state sponsors of terror because the nation donated money to the Clinton Foundation, a baseless charge given that Algeria has never been on the State Department's list of terror sponsors.
On the April 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Scarborough used recent media criticism of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation stemming from the right-wing opposition research book Clinton Cash to suggest the likelihood of illegal coordination between donors to her family's charitable foundation and policy decisions she made as secretary of state. Scarborough claimed that when the Algerian government "wanted to be taken off the terror list in the State Department" the government "wr[o]te a check" to the Clinton Foundation:
SCARBOROUGH: I think it was Algeria maybe that had given a donation that went unreported at a time when they wanted to be taken off of the terror list in the State Department. They write the check, they get taken off the terror list. Now can you?-- at the same time, and then it goes unreported by the Clinton Foundation. Is there a quid pro quo there? I don't know, that's really hard to tell.
This is pretty simple stuff. So Algeria is on the terror list, they want off the terror list, the State Department is making a decision to do it, they write a check for what? How much? How many million dollars do they write a check for? I don't know, but Algeria writes a check ... they write a really big check to the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation takes the check, and then just, out of nowhere the State Department then decides, well, they are going to take Algeria off the list. Now why did Algeria write a big check to the Clinton Foundation at the time they want something from the State Department?
But the allegations of a quid pro quo relationship hinted at in Scarborough's questions are baseless, because Algeria was not listed as a state-sponsor of terror at any point during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state -- or at any other point. Currently, the list includes only Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria, although Cuba's status is being reviewed. According to NPR, the only nations ever to be removed from this official list are Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and South Yemen.
In fact, Algeria remains a key U.S. ally and partner in the global fight against terrorism in North Africa, according to a State Department report published in 2014, long after Clinton left her post.
Algeria did make a donation to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton's tenure there, in the form of $500,000 to help with relief in Haiti after an earthquake ravaged the nation. According to a February 25 report in The Washington Post, Algeria was "spending heavily to lobby the State Department on human rights issues" around the same time. The Clinton Foundation admitted to improperly failing to disclose this donation.
Los principales medios en español están haciendo un buen trabajo al promover la representación de las mujeres en sus equipos de presentadores de noticias.
Para determinar el nivel de diversidad en los programas noticiosos de estos medios en español, Media Matters analizó los equipos de presentadores de los programas de noticias en las cadenas de transmisión nacional en EE.UU., Univision y Telemundo.
El estudio encontró que hay más presentadoras que presentadores en los programas de noticias de Univision y que en los programas de noticias de Telemundo, el balance de género es equitativo. El equipo de programas de noticias en Univision -- incluyendo al equipo del fin de semana -- está formado por siete mujeres y tres hombres. Por su parte, el equipo de presentadores de Telemundo lo conforman un hombre y una mujer. Sin embargo, vale la pena aclarar que esta mujer, María Celeste Arrarás, dirige dos programas de contenido noticioso a diario.
Right-wing media have baselessly speculated for months that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was injured in a physical altercation, and now, a Las Vegas man claims to have invented the false rumor to see whether it might become fodder for the conservative media bubble.
In the months that followed, right-wing media ran wild with speculation that Reid was lying about his injuries -- on the March 27 edition of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh claimed Reid was "behaving like somebody who may have been beaten up." Breitbart.com published an "investigation" into Reid's story, going so far as to obtain "a copyrighted digital image" of the model floor plan of Reid's home is based on, and claiming it had "uncovered facts that appear to discredit Reid's version of the home exercise," such as the distance between his shower door and his bathroom cabinets. John Hinderaker, who runs the conservative Powerline blog, helped spearhead the conjecture. Only four days after Reid's injuries were reported, Hinderaker noted that "[s]ome are speculating that he had a run-in with Las Vegas underworld characters," though admitting there "is zero evidence for that." On March 28, Hinderaker asked: "Was the Senate Majority Leader in the pocket of the Mafia? That seems like a question worth exploring."
With the right-wing rumor mill churning, a Las Vegas man has come forward saying he duped the conservative talking heads with phony rumors about Reid. Lawrence Pfeifer told the Las Vegas Sun on April 26 that he "started a false rumor that the injuries suffered by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid several months ago were the result of an attack by Reid's brother ... after becoming appalled that right-wing political blogger John Hinderaker published a rumor that Reid's injuries stemmed from an assault by a Mafia enforcer." Using the name Easton Elliott in his dealings with Hinderaker, "he pitched his fake story about the Reid brothers' supposed fight to Hinderaker, author of the Power Line blog, to test whether the blogger would publish it."
Pfeifer's false story first appeared in an April 3 Powerline post which relayed the account of Easton Elliott. Hinderaker reported that Elliot had seen Reid's brother, Larry Reid at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on New Year's Eve, bloodied and "visibly intoxicated":
Some time between 10:00 and 11:30 p.m., a man entered the meeting. His appearance was striking: there was blood on his clothing, beginning around his midsection. His left hand was swollen. He appeared to be somewhat intoxicated and was visibly agitated. He introduced himself as "Larry."
In a group discussion that was heard by a number of people, Larry said that he had just had a fight with a family member. Larry said he had been at a family get-together, and he didn't remember much about the fight because he had blacked out. When he came to, he was rolling on the ground, fighting with a family member, and his clothes were bloody. Now, he said, he was frightened that the Secret Service would come after him.
Easton Elliott didn't think much more about Larry until, several weeks later, he saw a newspaper story about Larry Reid, Harry Reid's brother, being arrested for DUI and assaulting a highway patrolman. The story was accompanied by a photograph, and Elliott immediately recognized Larry Reid as the "Larry" who had attended the AA meeting on New Year's Eve.
Pfeifer told the Las Vegas Sun that he had included details that "should have been seen as red flags, including that AA allows intoxicated individuals to attend meetings on New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve."
But the tall tale spread quickly through right-wing media. Limbaugh read parts of the Powerline post on his show, saying "Hinderaker can't vouch for it. Neither can I. But if what he says about the AA meeting is accurate, then the inferences seem reasonable ... So, bottom line, somebody attacked Harry Reid on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day." Glenn Beck talked about Elliott's allegations on his radio show, saying that if the details could be verified, "this one I could believe." World Net Daily reported the allegations in a post titled "Was Harry Reid really pummeled by a relative?," while The Gateway Pundit called Reid's brother "the main suspect in his brutal beating." Hinderaker even pushed the rumor when he guest-hosted The Laura Ingraham Show, saying "any normal person who just looks at the photographs that have been released of his face ... the first thing you would say is, that guy got beaten up."
Hinderaker attempted to explain running with the fake rumor in an April 26 post, saying that he never attempted to verify Pfeifer's rumor about Reid and that his "constant theme has been to call for an investigation of what appear to be obviously suspicious circumstances."
On CBS' Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer accurately identified one of his guests as the president of an anti-gay "hate group," providing his audience with valuable context often missing from mainstream media interviews with anti-LGBT extremists.
On the April 26 edition of Face the Nation, Schieffer invited Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), and Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, to discuss this week's Supreme Court arguments over marriage equality. Scheiffer began the interview by noting that Perkins' group has been labeled an anti-gay "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):
SCHIEFFER: I'm going to start with probably the most vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and that is Tony Perkins. He is the president of the Family Research Council. And, Mister Perkins, I'm going to say this to you upfront. You and your group have been so strong in coming out against this-- and against gay marriage that the Southern Poverty Law Center has branded the Family Research Council an anti-gay hate group. We have been inundated by people who say we should not even let you appear because they, in their view, quote, "You don't speak for Christians." Do you think you have taken this too far?
Fox News echoed an unfounded suggestion that a black female Miami police officer who followed military service guidelines by standing at attention during the Pledge of Allegiance might be "Muslim," and therefore disloyal to the United States.
On the April 27 edition of Fox & Friends, the hosts reported on a controversy in Miami over a police officer, Assistant Chief Anita Najiy, who did not put her hand over her heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. Co-host Steve Doocy noted that military guidelines require that military personnel "stand at attention, remain silent, and face the flag; and that's what she's doing." Nonetheless, the Fox & Friends hosts brought up a baseless accusation by Javier Ortiz, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, that the reason Najiy didn't put her hand over her heart is because she is "Muslim" and "has no respect for the flag or the United States":
DOOCY: The Fraternal Order of Police president suggests this could have been a religious decision. He has suggested that perhaps she is a Muslim. That is not known. But, nonetheless, a lot of waves being made about this video down in Miami.
BRIAN KILMEADE: By the way, if you're a Muslim, I hope it means you can still salute the flag, put your hand on your heart. What does that have to do with it?
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: Well, you know, that would be a great question to ask. And so is it our right to know why someone would opt out of that, how does that make you feel if that is indeed her district, would you want to know?
According to The Miami Herald, Ortiz demanded that Najiy be reprimanded for not covering her heart during the Pledge. The Fraternal Order president claimed that "Assistant Chief Najiy practices in the Muslim faith" and that "There are plenty of police officers in our department that practice the Muslim faith and pledge allegiance to our country and have a problem with her defiance towards the United States." Ortiz even accused Najiy of not being loyal to the U.S., asking, "what country is she loyal and shows allegiance to?"
But Miami Police Major Delrish Moss said it had "nothing to do with personal beliefs" and that Najiy was following military conduct guidelines, which "supercedes police code." And the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association, which represents black police officers, blasted Ortiz claims as racist:
"Racism cloaked in patriotism is a huge insult to the American flag, the city of Miami police department," MCPBA President Ella Moore said in a letter she intends to hand personally to Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes.
Najiy, a 32-year veteran, is "the highest ranking black female in the Miami Police Department" and the first female appointed Assistant Chief of Police in the department.
Just one month after Fox News' Bill O'Reilly brazenly threatened a New York Times reporter, warning her he'd go after her "with everything" he had if he didn't like the article she was writing about him, Times reporter Jo Becker happily cooperated with Fox News for its 60-minute special, The Tangled Clinton Web, which aired April 24.
Based on the pending book Clinton Cash, which is being published by Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins and heavily promoted by Murdoch's Fox News, Murdoch's Wall Street Journal and Murdoch's New York Post, The Tangled Clinton Web represented a mishmash of half-baked Clinton conspiracies that had Hillary and Bill Clinton at the center of a supposed vast web of international bribes and payoffs.
And yet there, featured amidst the waves of misinformation, was a New York Times reporter. Becker's Fox News' appearance was noteworthy, not only because of O'Reilly's stated contempt for the newspaper. But because Times journalists don't make a habit of regularly appearing on openly partisan Fox News, a cable channel that has embraced claims of Obama birtherism and has depicted the president of the United States as a racist, communist sympathizer who apologizes for America. (According to the Times' newsroom guidelines, when appearing on television programs staffers are supposed to avoid forums "that emphasize punditry and reckless opinion-mongering.")
Why the Becker appearance? In part, because she wrote a controversial piece last week that was inspired by Clinton Cash. Part of the Times' unusual "exclusive" arrangement with the book's author, Becker's article tried, and failed, to show how donations to the Clinton Foundation influenced Clinton's State Department when it signed off on the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with uranium mining claims in the U.S., to the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom.
By cooperating with the Fox News Clinton special, a program that was drowning in misinformation, Becker and the Times lent the Fox effort a desperately needed sheen of legitimacy. (i.e. 'Even the liberal New York Times....') And that's likely why prior to The Tangled Clinton Web airing, when Fox released to the media a clip of the special, the clip featured Becker's interview--Fox was proudly brandishing its Times alliance.
What would be the only topic that could create such a strange partnership where The New York Times, the world's most famous news organization, was working hand-in-a-hand with a media outlet that during the last presidential campaign abandoned all pretense of independent journalism and produced and aired its own four-minute political attack ad?
The endless pursuit of the Clintons, of course.
Fox News' special based on discredited conservative journalist Peter Schweizer's book Clinton Cash dishonestly promoted several of the author's speculative attacks on Hillary Clinton.
In the April 24 special, The Tangled Clinton Web, host Bret Baier gave Schweizer a platform to discuss a series of stories that fail to connect the dots between donations to the Clinton Foundation, speaking fees earned by former President Bill Clinton, and policies supported by the State Department during Secretary Clinton's tenure in the Obama administration.
Schweizer is a Republican activist whose previous reporting has been marked by false claims and retractions.
Journalists who have reviewed Schweizer's Clinton book have noted that his reporting lacks a "smoking gun" to back up his suggestions of impropriety. Reporters have also pointed to several errors in his book. But host Bret Baier warned at the conclusion of the program that the claims could lead "people" to "worry that another Clinton administration could mean influence peddling on a scale never before imagined."
Schweizer and Baier tried to connect the decision by Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson to pay Bill Clinton for a speech in November 2011 with the exclusion of the telecommunications industry from sanctions against Iran, which does business with Ericsson.
From the special:
SCHWEIZER: Beginning in 2009, the Swedish telecom giant Ericsson is coming under pressure in the United States, because it's selling telecom equipment to oppressive governments around the world. In the midst of all of this, they decide to pay Bill Clinton to give a speech for the first time ever. They pay him a whopping $750,000.
BAIER: Soon after, Hillary Clinton's State Department urged new, broader sanctions against Iran, but the guidelines did not include telecom, which is Ericsson's business.
In fact, the Iran sanctions in question actually took the form of executive actions from President Obama, and not State Department initiatives.
Baier and Schweizer provided no evidence that telecommunications were excluded from the sanctions as a result of the speech. In fact, the sanctions in question specifically targeted Iran's energy sector. As CNN reported at the time, "The U.S. government tightened restrictions on companies that provide Iran with equipment and expertise necessary to run its vast oil and chemical industry."
When Yahoo News reviewed the chapter of Clinton Cash featuring this allegation, they noted that there was "no smoking gun" connecting the speech and the sanctions. Yahoo News further noted that a Clinton aide pointed out that telecommunications manufacturers like Ericsson have not been added to the sanctions since Clinton left the State Department, casting doubt on the suggestion of a connection between the 2011 Bill Clinton speech and U.S. sanctions policy.
Schweizer and Baier baselessly suggest that a donation to the Clinton Foundation from Saudi Arabia's Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi caused the State Department to certify Ethiopia's human rights record, allowing them to receive U.S. aid.
Schweizer reports that Al-Amoudi's 2009 donation was highlighted at the time by "Ethiopian groups in the west, because they are very concerned about the repressive government in Ethiopia and the fact that Sheikh Al-Amoudi has a large business empire in Ethiopia." He goes on to connect these concerns to the fact that "when Hillary Clinton becomes secretary of state, one of the things that she needs to do is certify Ethiopia on human rights, but Hillary Clinton granted them a waiver which allowed them to continue U.S. assistance even though that they weren't complying with U.S. law."
But contrary to the special's suggestion that Ethiopia was allowed access to U.S. assistance directly because of this Clinton Foundation donation, that access predated and continued after Clinton left the State Department. In fact, the document Fox showed on-screen in support of their claim actually postdates her tenure.
As evidence of their theory, Fox aired an image of a Department of State Public Notice 8553, titled "Waiver of Restriction on Assistance to the Central Government of Ethiopia":
That waiver, signed by then-Deputy Secretary William J. Burns, is actually dated July 10, 2013 -- months after Clinton left office. It appears in the December 18, 2013, edition of the Federal Register, which also reports that identical waivers were granted to the governments of 11 other African nations.
Such aid is not a new phenomenon. The State Department's Agency for International Development has provided economic assistance to Ethiopia for decades, including throughout the Bush administration.
Baier and Schweizer baselessly suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally approved a deal that eventually gave the Russian government ownership of U.S. uranium mines to benefit a Clinton Foundation donor.
During the segment, Schweizer detailed the sale of Uranium One, chaired by a Clinton Foundation donor, to the Russian state corporation Rosatom. He and Schweizer then had the following exchange:
BAIER: Now, does Secretary Clinton factor into this?
SCHWEIZER: For that deal to go through, it needs federal government approval and one of those people that has to approve that deal is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
NBC News has noted in discussing a similar story by The New York Times that this implication "doesn't hold up that well." Indeed, as Media Matters has noted:
Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer once attacked The Walt Disney Company for what he deemed its "endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle from a company that had traditionally been family-oriented."
Media outlets have aggressively reported on the claims from Schweizer's upcoming anti-Clinton book, which purports to find suspicious links between donations to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's State Department policies. Several errors in the book have already been uncovered, and many outlets have admitted the book presents "little evidence" for its claims.
The factual errors are unsurprising given Schweizer's extensive history of retractions and inaccuracies, but Schweizer's resume also includes publishing a screed against Disney's "thriving gay subculture."
In the 1998 book Disney: The Mouse Betrayed, Schweizer and his wife Rochelle Schweizer set out to investigate the dark side of Disney, and they claim that what they uncovered "was downright disturbing -- even shocking." Their book touches on a wide range of offenses, and includes an entire chapter devoted to "growing gay activism" at the corporation.
The Schweizers document Disney's gay-friendly hiring policies, noting "gay employees fill a variety of roles at the company," even explaining that founder Walt Disney stood by an animator arrested in the 1930s on a charge of homosexuality. But they complain that things have changed, since "in the past homosexuality among Disney artists and employees never became a political issue."
According to them, Disney's gay activism "extends beyond company employment policy. It also exerts a strong influence on the environment at the Magic Kingdom and on the sorts of projects Mickey and his friends are now taking on." This, the Schweizers insist, is part of the "larger issue surrounding a clash between the old Disney and the new ... those who favor Disney's traditional way of entertainment and those who champion a new way that often infuses the Disney experience with gay themes, characters, and stories."
Key among the Schweizers' fears is "the Minnie Mouse stunt," in which they claim men at Disney World secretly dress up as the female mouse to flirt with unsuspecting park visitors, "embarrassing male guests." In fact, Schweizer sees cross-dressing everywhere at Disney World:
...a female dancer lets a male musician perform in her stead and in her clothes; on the steps of Cinderella's Castle, a Christmas pageant is transformed into a drag show for knowing employees when male performers dress in women's costumes. RuPaul, the transvestite entertainer, has performed at Disney World.