The New York Times is holding Jeb Bush to a lower standard over his selective release of emails from his time as governor of Florida, taking Bush's word for it that enough emails have been "made public" despite reports that Bush hand-picked the emails he would release. At the same time, the Times is insisting that Hillary Clinton lay out the process she used to release emails from her tenure as secretary of state.
"Under Florida's records laws, emails from Mr. Bush's personal account have been made public," the Times reported. "'His emails were available via public records requests throughout his time in office and have remained available,' Ms. Campbell [a Bush spokesperson] said."
That's it. That's all the Times had to say about Jeb Bush's use of a non-government email account during his tenure as governor.
The Republican party's deep divisions on climate change and the environment were on full display at the recently-concluded Conservative Political Aciton Committee (CPAC). How the GOP presidential contenders attempt to navigate these divisions is an important news story that deserves media attention in the weeks and months ahead.
Several weeks ahead of CPAC, a poll came out showing that 48% of Republicans would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports taking action on climate change, compared to just 24% who would be less likely to vote for such a candidate. The poll also showed that GOP supporters are inclined to oppose candidates who view climate change as a "hoax" by the same 2-to-1 ratio.
While many self-described Republicans support climate action, it seems unlikely that the same can be said of the conservative activists and donors who attended this year's CPAC.
CPAC attendees are far more engaged than rank-and-file Republicans, and the GOP presidential contenders know that winning support -- financial and otherwise -- from the CPAC base will be crucial if they hope to emerge from a crowded primary field and ultimately capture the presidency. But trying to appease the CPAC crowd's anti-environmental extremism without alienating most Americans -- and even many Republicans -- could prove to be an insurmountable task.
Offering up some advice to the political press corps as it prepares to cover the 2016 presidential campaign, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently stressed that reporters and pundits ought to take a deep breath when big stories broke; to not immediately promote stumbles and campaign missteps to be more urgent and damaging than they really are.
"We may wish certain snags were roadblocks and certain missteps collapses, because we think they should be or they're sexier that way," wrote Bruni.
That was in his February 28 column. Four days later Bruni abandoned his own advice.
Pouncing on the controversy surrounding which email account Hillary Clinton used while serving as secretary of state, Bruni tossed his counsel for caution to the wind and treated the email development as an instant game changer and even wondered if the revelation indicated Clinton had a political "death wish."
But that fits the long-running pattern of the D.C. media's Clinton treatment: Over-eager journalists hungry for scandal can't even abide by the advice they dispensed four days prior. Or maybe Bruni simply meant that his advice of caution was supposed to apply only to Republican candidates. Because it's certainly not being applied to Hillary and the email kerfuffle coverage.
Instead, "The media and politicos and Twitterati immediately responded with all the measured cautious skepticism we've come to expect in response to any implication of a Clinton Scandal," noted Wonkette. "That is to say, none."
Just look how the very excitable Ron Fournier at National Journal rushed in after the email story broke and announced Clinton should probably just forget about the whole running-for-president thing. Why preemptively abandon an historic run? Because she may reveal herself to be "seedy," "sanctimonious," "self-important," and "slick." This, after Fournier denounced Bill and Hillary Clinton two weeks ago for their "stupid" and "sleazy" actions.
That seems like a temperate way for a Beltway columnist to write about presidential campaigns, right? Then again, both Fournier and Bruni drew a straight line from the unfolding email story to Bill Clinton's extra-marital affair nearly 20 years ago, which strikes me as odd, if not downright bizarre.
"As long as she's a national figure--and especially when she runs for president--Hillary Clinton will get more scrutiny than anyone else in the field," wrote Jamelle Bouie at Slate this week. (The press is also slow to react when holes in the email stories appear.)
Scrutiny is certainly part of the campaign equation and no candidate should be sealed off from it. What I'm highlighting is how Clinton scrutiny is so often wrapped in an almost a high school brand of social contempt.
Bill O'Reilly's false claim that he witnessed the brutal 1980 murders of four American women in El Salvador -- and his excuse, after his lie was exposed, that he meant he saw photos of their bodies -- is drawing harsh criticism from journalists who covered the story and lawyers who worked with the nuns' families to bring justice in the case.
O'Reilly has recently faced scrutiny for a series of fabrications he has told over the years about his reporting career. Last week, Media Matters reported that O'Reilly had repeatedly suggested he saw nuns murdered in El Salvador while reporting for CBS News, despite the fact that the incident in question occurred before he arrived in the country. O'Reilly told his radio audience in 2005 that he'd "seen guys gun down nuns in El Salvador." More recently, he said on his Fox News program, "I was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head."
After Media Matters challenged O'Reilly's story, he told Mediaite that he merely meant he'd seen "horrendous images" of the murdered nuns while reporting from El Salvador.
His apparent effort to use the brutal murders to bolster his own history as a journalist is drawing harsh rebukes from those who represented the families of the victims in legal cases related to the murders.
"It's disgusting, it's reprehensible," said Patti Blum, an attorney who worked with the families on a civil case for the Center for Justice and Accountability. "To use the death of four women who were in El Salvador just to do good for your own self-aggrandizement is unsavory."
Scott Greathead, a founder of Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, which is now Human Rights First, spent time in El Salvador representing relatives of the nuns during the prosecution of the killers.
He said of O'Reilly's claims and his weak excuse, "I don't know why he said that and why he came to say it. I know he didn't see it and nobody saw it and anyone who knew about that incident would have known they were killed in secret. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen pictures of it and I don't know anyone else being confused about what they saw."
He later added, "I don't think anyone should be making up stories about this, to invent a story. I know from representing the families from all this time they remain very, very sensitive about what happened to their sisters and daughters. Distorting the truth is appalling."
Journalists who covered the nuns, both at the time of their murders and in the years after, also criticized O'Reilly.
Charles Krause, a former CBS News reporter who said he flew in to El Salvador with the nuns and covered their murders for the network, called out Fox News for defending O'Reilly by claiming he has been the victim of dishonest critics.
"I am outraged by the McCarthy-like smear campaign Fox News is using to try to save its bloviator from oblivion by suggesting that anyone, anyone who corrects the record regarding O'Reilly is part of some leftwing conspiracy that's out to get him," he said via email. "There is no conspiracy, leftwing or otherwise, that I am part of or aware of."
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly used CNN's Christiane Amanpour's childhood in Iran to undermine her reporting after she criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. congress.
On the March 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly highlighted Amanpour's childhood in Iran, stating that "Amanpour, herself raised in Iran, did not think much of Netanyahu's speech," to undermine her critical reporting of the Israeli Prime Minister's speech to the U.S. congress. O'Reilly emphasized Amanpour's childhood in Iran a second time, saying, "Ms. Amanpour was raised in Iran until age 11 and apparently does not believe the mullahs would act unilaterally with the nuke":
Fox News championed a campaign to encourage healthy school nutrition in an interview with New York Giants player Victor Cruz, sharply contrasting with the network's long history of attacking similar efforts as government fiat.
On the March 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Victor Cruz promoted Fuel Up to Play 60, the "nation's largest in-school wellness program." The initiative, a partnership between the National Football League and the National Dairy Council, aims to encourage support for school nutrition by creating "a system for increasing breakfast participation by delivering reimbursable meals to classrooms for student consumption before or during class," pointing to research that suggests offering "breakfast free to all children improve[s] student achievement, diets and behavior."
Cruz's campaign received a warm welcome by the Fox & Friends co-hosts who donned Cruz jerseys while interviewing him during National School Breakfast Week. Co-host Steve Doocy lauded Cruz for working to ensure "every kid in America is eating a healthy breakfast." Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck praised Cruz's campaign, saying, "I know how important you understand nutrition is for kids. You do so much for kids, and this Play 60 campaign that you're running with here is so important. Tell us about why breakfast really counts for kids":
The New York Times dug in its heels to defend its inadequate reporting that insinuated that Hillary Clinton broke the law by maintaining a non-government email account as secretary of state, rejecting a call from David Brock, founder and chairman of Media Matters, to issue a correction.
In its response refusing to publicly correct the serious shortcomings in its initial reporting, the Times actually underscored how its initial report was not properly vetted prior to publication.
Brock issued a public letter to the Times on Tuesday requesting a "prominent correction as soon as possible" after reporter Michael Schmidt published an article suggesting Clinton violated federal law by using a non-government email address while serving as secretary of state. Brock wrote:
The Schmidt article failed to meet the highest journalistic standards that readers expect of The New York Times. Since it was published, the Times has been leaning on other reporters to vet the story after the fact. Our hope is that after reviewing the situation, the Times will do the right thing and correct this sloppy, innuendo-laden report in a prominent place.
In an email to Media Matters, a Times representative said they "stand by the story" and directed Media Matters to a 2009 rule from the National Archives and Records Administration that they claim was violated by Clinton's use of a non-government email. The Times representative did not explain why that information was not included in its initial report, an after-the-fact claim that only further illustrates that the initial reporting was so sloppy.
And, as The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, Clinton has provided 55,000 pages of her emails to the State Department, in compliance with the 2009 regulatory change and a 2014 law that was passed after Clinton had left the administration.
Nor does the Times response address the fact that Jason Baron, the former head of litigation at the National Archives and Records Association and the key source quoted by The New York Times, has said that Secretary Clinton did not "violate" the law.
No authoritative legal expert has identified any violation of the law with her use of personal email. In contrast, The National Law Journal reported that "lawyers say it's unlikely she did anything illegal."
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis cited a misleading statistic about carrying concealed guns from pro-gun group Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) without disclosing the group's pro-gun slant or that it is run by discredited gun researcher John Lott.
CPRC research was cited in a March 2 article on a recent increase in the number of permits to carry a concealed gun issued to Minnesotans. Arguments in favor of carrying concealed weapons were bolstered by the article's citation that "[t]he Crime Prevention Research Center found that states with a high percentage of gun ownership often had low violent-crime rates."
The article identified CPRC as "a nonprofit organization that studies the connection between firearms and crime," a description that fails to adequately inform readers about the nature of the group.
CPRC is run by discredited gun researcher John Lott, who often manipulates statistics about gun violence in order to advance a misleading pro-gun agenda. Armed With Reason, "a blog dedicated to academically refuting pro-gun myths," describes Lott -- the inventor of the now-debunked "more guns, less crime" hypothesis -- as "the most prolific and influential writer on the topic of gun violence and gun control."
According to Armed With Reason, Lott touts false claims about gun violence "repeatedly in articles and TV appearances" and has committed "ethical transgressions" in his pursuit of pro-gun research:
While [Lott's] initial research was groundbreaking, further examination revealed numerous flaws. Today the "more guns, less crime" hypothesis has been thoroughly repudiated. On closer inspection his impressive credentials reveal an academic nomad, never able to secure a place in academia. His ethical transgressions range from accusations of fabricating an entire survey, to presenting faulty regressions, to creating elaborate online personas to defend his work and bash critics, to trying to revise his online history to deflect arguments. And this doesn't even begin to cover the whole host of false claims and statistics he has peddled repeatedly in articles and TV appearances.
The CPRC statistic cited by the Star Tribune -- that "states with a high percentage of gun ownership often had low violent-crime rates" -- is misleading because it gives the erroneous impression that the concealed carry of firearms is associated with lower crime rates. In fact, credible academic research has proven the opposite to be true.
Former Fox News contributor Ben Carson used the network to announce that he has launched an exploratory committee to run for president in 2016, following years of Fox News touting Carson as a rising star and potential presidential candidate.
On the March 3 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Ben Carson announced that he is launching an exploratory committee to see whether "me running for president is a viable thing."
Carson became a conservative media darling after using his 2013 National Prayer Breakfast speech to attack President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Following his speech, Fox hosts fawned over Carson calling him "fantastic," and "a star." In an interview about the speech, Fox's Sean Hannity said that he'd vote for Carson for president "in a heartbeat."
In October, 2013, Fox hired Carson as a contributor. Carson used this elevated platform to attack the Obama administration and defend his extreme rhetoric. During his tenure on Fox, the network continued to promote Carson as a presidential contender repeatedly asking whether he would run for president. During a May 2014 appearance on Hannity, Carson claimed he was seeing "record crowds" with people asking if he'd be running for president. A lead story on The O'Reilly Factor in August 2014 was about the "rumors swirling" that Carson might run.
Former Fox News contributor and journalism professor Jane Hall explained that the media should hold Fox News host Bill O'Reilly to the same standard Brian Williams faced after news broke of his multiple reporting fabrications.
Recently, O'Reilly has faced increased criticism and scrutiny following the news of various discrepancies and fabrications in stories he told about his journalistic credentials which may have wrongly benefited his career. The controversy has spurred calls from a veterans group and other organizations for O'Reilly to be held accountable for his fabrications by Fox. O'Reilly has even faced criticism from former colleagues at CBS, Inside Edition, and now Fox News.
During an interview with The Wrap, O'Reilly's former colleague at Fox, American University journalism professor Jane Hall said that media outlets should hold O'Reilly to the same standard as Brian Williams, who was suspended for six months after he acknowledged "exaggerating his role in a helicopter episode in Iraq." According to Hall:
"I think the media reporting should hold [O'Reilly] to the same standard [as Brian Williams]," former Fox News contributor and American University Journalism Professor Jane Hall told TheWrap. "He reaches how many millions of people a night? If people in the media are dismissing him as, 'he's an entertainer,' I think they're vastly underestimating his influence."
A Fox News spokesperson told The Wrap Hall's contract was not renewed and she was let go; Hall says she left of her own volition.
Hall thinks NBC News' swift response to the Williams scandal was appropriate in the context of the sober "Nightly News" brand, but emphasized O'Reilly shouldn't be let off the hook.
"He is an opinion host, but I don't think that means reporters shouldn't be writing about it given his influence and his ratings," adding that the question reporters need to ask is, "what is your audience, what is your reach, what is your political influence?"