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  • NY Times Highlights Television Networks’ Imbalanced Focus On Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times’ Michael Grynbaum explained that because presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “has become a daily fixture on influential programs” on television news, “even personally calling [networks] to shape coverage,” networks have struggled to provide equal time for other presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton.

    Media outlets have been widely criticized for showering Trump with nearly endless coverage. According to a study by The New York Times, Trump has received nearly $2 billion in free earned media over the course of the campaign. Networks have also been criticized for allowing Trump the unprecedented advantage of conducting interviews over the phone rather than in-person.

    In a May 30 piece, Grynbaum noted that while cable networks “are seeking novel ways to maintain balance” by getting other candidates coverage, “the presence of Mr. Trump can be irresistible” due to possibly getting “tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue for an industry threatened by digital competition.” The article quoted anchors, executives and news producers who “admit[ed] unease at the unfiltered exposure [Trump] has received,” including one anchor “describing frustration about being asked to conduct on-air interviews with Mr. Trump by telephone, rather than in person.” From the May 30 New York Times piece:

    Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has become a daily fixture on influential programs, startling producers by even personally calling control rooms to shape coverage.

    Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, is not absent from cable news; she called in to CNN and MSNBC last week to rebut attacks from her rival. But she remains leery of TV’s unscripted nature, appearing far less often than Mr. Trump and irking some bookers who complain about the difficulties of luring her on the air.

    […]

    Networks are seeking novel ways to maintain balance, like staging voter town halls that provide candidates with equal airtime; seeking a wider spectrum of on-air contributors and campaign surrogates; and bringing more fact-checking into segments, as Jake Tapper has done recently on CNN to some acclaim.

    Still, the presence of Mr. Trump can be irresistible, especially in an election where viewership and advertising rates have soared, generating tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue for an industry threatened by digital competition.

    Last week, none of the three major cable news networks — CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC — carried Mrs. Clinton’s speech to a workers’ union in Las Vegas, where she debuted sharp new attack lines against Mr. Trump.

    Instead, each chose to broadcast a live feed of an empty podium in North Dakota, on a stage where Mr. Trump was about to speak.

    [...]

    In interviews, more than a dozen anchors, executives and news producers displayed admiration for Mr. Trump’s facility with their medium. Some expressed a bit of soul-searching, admitting unease at the unfiltered exposure he has received, with one anchor describing frustration about being asked to conduct on-air interviews with Mr. Trump by telephone, rather than in person. But several offered the defense that whatever viewers make of Mr. Trump, he is undoubtedly newsworthy — and always accessible.

    “I don’t think anybody has seen anything like this,” said Bret Baier, the chief political anchor at Fox News.

    Mr. Baier, who has moderated a Democratic town hall with Mrs. Clinton and has interviewed Mr. Trump on his show, said that producers are “really trying to think outside the box” to balance Mr. Trump’s ubiquity onscreen.

    He also said he was stunned when Mr. Trump telephoned a control room at CNN this month, urging a midlevel producer to pursue a story he deemed favorable. It was an intervention virtually unheard-of in presidential politics, where candidates typically rely on an army of media handlers for such tasks. Mr. Trump had called producers at MSNBC that morning, as well.

    To sign Media Matters’ petition calling on media outlets to take away Trump’s special phone privilege, click here.

  • There Is A Paid Speech Controversy The Press Should Cover: Trump’s

    Trump Made Millions Addressing Alleged “Scam” Marketing Company

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Signaling long ago that it would never tire of writing about -- and generally denouncing -- the topic of paid speeches Hillary Clinton gave as a private citizen, the press keeps piling on. Just last week, The Washington Post added to its already mountainous Clinton speech coverage by publishing another long take, this one complete with charts and graphs.

    Following the press’ lead, Republican operatives are reportedly scouring the political countryside in search of what are now often portrayed as Clinton’s near-mythical speech transcripts.

    But note that this media spotlight only searches out one target: Hillary Clinton.

    And that’s been among the most baffling elements of the media’s obsession with Clinton’s speaking fees: Why are her lecture circuit earnings the only ones that matter? When so many prominent Republican candidates previously cashed big checks making paid speeches (and some of them cashed the checks while running for president), why are only the Democratic front-runner’s speeches considered to be newsworthy and borderline controversial?

    Those recent Republican candidates include Mike HuckabeeBen CarsonJeb BushCarly FiorinaMitt RomneyHerman CainNewt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani, who pocketed more than $11 million in the thirteen months prior to announcing his candidacy in 2007.

    And yes, Donald Trump.

    It turns out that a big chunk of Trump’s speaking fees revolve around ACN, a controversial multilevel marketing company that’s been accused of bilking people out of millions of dollars.

    If presented in proper context by the press, Trump’s long-running and lucrative relationship with ACN would essentially eliminate questions about Clinton’s speeches. And if queries persisted, the press would have to demand Trump also release nearly a decade worth of transcripts.

    In truth, there has been some good reporting on Trump's questionable relationship with ACN. (Interestingly, some of it has been done by the conservative press.) But apart from the initial flurry of reports last summer, Trump’s ACN association -- like so many scandals involving the presumptive Republican nominee -- has largely faded from view. And virtually none of the coverage has focused on the issue of paid speeches, or suggested Trump release transcripts to his six-figure ACN pep rallies, the way the press has hounded Clinton over that issue.

    Here’s the key point: Clinton’s paid speeches, whether to financial institutions, universities or trade associations, have never represented endorsements. On the other hand, Trump has spent years giving paid speeches and appearances specifically to ACN and quite clearly endorsing the company: “ACN has a reputation for success, success that’s really synonymous with the Trump name.” 

    In 2009 and 2011, ACN executives appeared on Trump’s NBC reality show, Celebrity Apprentice. And during one episode, Trump touted a “revolutionary” videophone that ACN was rolling out: “I simply can’t imagine anybody using this phone and not loving it.” (The product quickly flopped.)

    ACN’s website once bragged how, "Trump is a fixture at ACN International Training Events, setting the record for the most appearances from the ACN stage by any ACN special guest speaker." (The boasts have since been deleted.)

    In fact, it seemed the whole point of his speeches and personal appearances were for Trump to boost ACN’s brand and convince more people to buy into its sales system. “To prop up its business, ACN relies heavily on Trump to recruit news salespeople into the fold,” The Daily Caller noted.

    Being a multilayered marketing company means ACN relentlessly recruits people to sell its products.

    As Slate explained:

    Products sold through the multilevel marketing model aren’t sold in stores. Instead individuals purchase a startup kit (always encouraged, but not always required) and then contract with the company for the right to sell the merchandise to other individuals. They receive a commission on each sale but are not actually employed by the company. So far, so familiar. That’s the classic Avon Lady model.

    But selling goods one by one to your neighbors and friends isn’t the way to riches, no matter how much you hound them or otherwise guilt-trip them into making purchases. So multilevel marketing companies incentivize their salespeople to recruit other salespeople, promising them a cut of all that person’s sales, as long as both the original seller and the new recruit remain active.

    Becoming an ACN salesperson costs money. The company charges a $499 initiation fee, and then “ACN representatives are charged a $149 annual renewal fee, and they often pay $39.99 a month for a package of technology and marketing materials, plus extra fees to attend company meetings and conferences.” 

    Trump now seems to realize the political downside to his ACN cheerleading. When asked about his cozy, decade-long relationship with ACN, Trump last year told The Wall Street Journal he didn’t really know much about the company. (“I know nothing about the company other than the people who run the company.”) This is a company, as the Journal reported, that has paid Trump “millions of dollars” “over the past decade.”

    Indeed, Trump once bragged that in 2006 the company paid him $2.5 million for a single speech. And last year when Trump filed a financial disclosure with the Federal Election Commission, three ACN speeches/appearances from 2014 and 2015 were listed among his income. Trump pocketed $450,000 for each one.

    Why are Trump’s ACN six-figure paychecks a big deal? And why, if Hillary Clinton had spent years hyping a company as suspicious as ACN, would there probably already have been Republican-led congressional hearings into that relationship?

    From the Journal [emphasis added]:

    Mr. Trump’s endorsement helped entice people such as Donna Roberson, 47 years old, a disabled Army veteran near Tacoma, Wash., who signed up as an ACN independent business owner in 2011. In an interview, she recalled thinking at the time: “If he’s pushing it, it’s got to be a good company to get into. Yeah, we can make money at this.”

    Ms. Roberson, a single mother of four, said she lost as much as $2,000 on ACN“I feel like it’s a big scam,” she said. “It was costing me more to stay in the company than what I was making.”

    Here are some additional reasons why Trump likely wants his ACN past to disappear:

    • In 2010, Montana’s securities commissioner alleged ACN was an “illegal pyramid scheme” and sought to have it shut down, according to WSJ. State regulators dropped the charge after the company promised to better train its workers.
    • The Journal also laid out how Maryland regulators accused ACN affiliate Xoom Energy of jacking up energy rates for its customers and is seeking at least $1 million in payments for customers.
    • Xoom is also the subject of a class action lawsuit in North Carolina and is accused of making “false and misleading” sales pitches. “The lawsuit includes the text of almost three dozen online complaints alleging similar acts of fraud against ACN and/or Xoom,” National Review reported.
    • A former ACN salesman confessed to a local ABC affiliate in New York that he was unintentionally “robbing people” when he got them to sign up for Xoom Energy.

    In other words, ACN is a mess and ACN is precisely the kind of questionable company a presidential candidate should stay away from, and certainly the type of company a candidate should not have spent years breathlessly endorsing in exchange for $450,000 paychecks.

    Keep that in mind the next time reporters hover around Clinton speech transcripts.

  • Telemundo Uses Flawed Poll To Misleadingly Claim Latinos May Be Warming To Trump

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Telemundo uncritically reported on a flawed NBC/SurveyMonkey poll conducted between May 16 and May 22 that showed Latino support for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump at 29 percent, a higher result than what other national polls are reporting.

    On the May 26 edition of Telemundo’s nightly news program, Noticiero Telemundo, news correspondent Cristina Londoño reported on the NBC/SurveyMonkey poll, saying that Trump’s support among Latinos has “now surpassed that of Mitt Romney’s” in 2012 and that Republican analysts are beginning to “confess that a Trump presidency is starting to seem like a real possibility”:

    Translated transcript:

    CRISTINA LONDOÑO (CORRESPONDENT): Today analysts on different sides of the political spectrum are starting to confess that they see a Trump presidency as a real possibility based specifically on how they used to consider his candidacy had such small possibilities. With the nomination almost secured, this analyst predicts that Trump will attempt to close in on Latino voters.

    ROLANDO BONILLA: He is going to make the necessary adjustments, and we are going to see people within the Latino community that are going to end up supporting him.

    LONDOÑO: Nevertheless, this Trump supporter claims that the businessman who just surpassed the support of Latinos that Mitt Romney obtained in 2012 has many secret Latino supporters that are afraid of being attacked.

    But the segment failed to explain that the poll they based their analysis on “did not offer the questionnaire in Spanish -- a key difference from the earlier FIU/Adsmovil and Washington Post/Univision polls.” Despite English proficiency being on the rise among Hispanics, Pew studies show that at least one third don’t speak the language “very well” or claim to “not speak English at all.”

    Telemundo also did not put the NBC/SurveyMonkey poll in context, neglecting to report on other data showing Trump’s high unfavorables among Latinos and reports that increasing naturalization rates among foreign-born Hispanics may be tied to Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. Univision’s Jorge Ramos in April put into context Trump’s dismal numbers among Latinos:

  • NY Times’ Greenhouse: Contraceptive Mandate At Supreme Court "Is Not A Case About Nuns”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times' Supreme Court expert, Linda Greenhouse, wrote that the recent Supreme Court case about the opt-out process developed to accommodate religious nonprofits' objections to the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) contraceptive mandate “is not a case about nuns” -- a reference to one of the plaintiffs in the case, The Little Sisters of the Poor. Greenhouse noted that “opponents of the contraception mandate have been brilliant in positioning the case as being about nuns,” even though the Little Sisters are only one of the 30 plaintiffs, and that “it’s hard to believe” that such positioning “has not at least subliminally played on the instincts and helped to shape the views of some members of the Supreme Court.”

    In Zurbik v Burwell, the Supreme Court was asked to decide if the objecting 30 religious nonprofits -- which, Greenhouse wrote, included “Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order whose mission is to run nursing homes for the elderly poor” -- were substantially burdened by the requirement that they notify their insurance provider that they object to providing contraception coverage. This notification would then allow the insurance providers to provide cost-free contraceptive coverage to the employees of the objecting religious nonprofits. On May 16, the Supreme Court opted not to decide the case on its merits and sent it back to the lower courts, hoping that  the government and the plaintiffs would work out a compromise .

    Greenhouse wrote that aside from the Little Sisters, the other plaintiffs include high schools, colleges, charities and several individuals, saying that “it’s time for the administration and its supporters to recapture the narrative and make clear to a confused public that this is not a case about nuns. It’s a case about women who should not, by reason of their particular employment, have to forfeit the right to comprehensive health care that the law makes available to other women in the work force.”

    From The New York Times’ May 26 column:

    By my count, the Little Sisters of the Poor (who, as I’ve noted before, advertise themselves as equal-opportunity employers in the nursing home enterprise) are only one of 30 petitioners in the seven Supreme Court cases. The other 29 include Catholic and Baptist colleges, Catholic high schools, individual bishops, two chapters of Catholic Charities, other charities, and several individuals. Granted, it’s more compelling to hear about the travails of the Little Sisters (who even merited a photo op with Pope Francis last September) than about the objection to contraception coverage held by the named plaintiff in the lead case, the Most Reverend David A. Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

    Opponents of the contraception mandate have been brilliant in positioning the case as being about nuns who have a name “perfectly pitched to make liberals/progressives squirm,” as Mona Charen wrote in National Review in a post that accused The Washington Post of burying the group’s name in its story about the court’s decision. A reader had to turn to the jump, Ms. Charen complained, and “read down another five paragraphs to learn this is the case brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor.” Well, yes, and 29 other plaintiffs.

    So pervasive has the administration-versus-nuns narrative been that it’s hard to believe that it has not at least subliminally played on the instincts and helped to shape the views of some members of the Supreme Court. Now that the cases are most likely back to square one, it’s time for the administration and its supporters to recapture the narrative and make clear to a confused public that this is not a case about nuns. It’s a case about women who should not, by reason of their particular employment, have to forfeit the right to comprehensive health care that the law makes available to other women in the work force. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but an urgent task.

  • Fox News' Obscene And Ridiculous Trump Infomercial

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    On May 26, Fox News aired an hour-long special, Meet The Trumps, in which On The Record host Greta Van Susteren spent the hour asking flattering questions of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and his immediate family. Multiple critics compared the special to the state-run media of a dictatorship.

    This is what the special looks like when you remove Trump and his family's answers:

  • Why You Can't Believe Anything Roger Stone Says: Dick Morris Edition

    Stone Praises “Very Bright” Anti-Clinton Pundit After Previously Saying Morris Has “No Credibility” And “Is Full Of Shit”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Donald Trump ally Roger Stone praised pundit Dick Morris as “a very, very bright guy” who is “largely credible” because of his anti-Clinton work. But in previous election cycles, Stone declared that “raging asshole” Morris has “no credibility,” “is full of shit,” “would work for Hitler if it paid,” and should be shot.

    Stone’s disingenuous praise is just another example of why reporters shouldn’t take anything he says at face value.

    Stone is a longtime friend and ally of Trump who heads a pro-Trump super PAC after leaving his campaign last year. He participated in a May 26 Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) in the Donald Trump subreddit. Stone’s talk streamed live through Infowars.com, the main website of Trump ally and conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones. Stone regularly appears on Jones’ program to rally support for Trump.

    During the AMA, Stone was asked for his opinion about former Clinton adviser turned anti-Clinton conservative pundit Dick Morris. Morris spent much of the post-Clinton White House years working for Fox News, where he became infamous for his countless ethical violations, inaccurate electoral predictions, and offensive, false, and dishonest comments. Morris predicted Mitt Romney would win the 2012 election in a “landslide,” and his Fox contract was not renewed in 2013.

    Morris now regularly appears on Newsmax TV and writes a column for The Hill, a source of embarrassment for legitimate journalists at the Capitol Hill publication. Morris has used his remaining media perches to tout Trump’s electoral chances and criticize Hillary Clinton. Morris’ columns for The Hill and his website include such headlines as, “Trump can win,” “Hillary's women problem,” and “Hillary's BlackBerry: A Microphone For Espionage.”

    Stone praised Morris during the AMA as “a very, very engaging and bright guy” and “a conservative.” He said that while Morris “has been wrong about some things,” when it “comes to the Clintons, he was in close. He did work on their gubernatorial campaigns. He saw the interplay in their dysfunctional relationship. And I think he's largely credible.”

    ROGER STONE: I know Dick Morris. Dick is a very, very engaging and bright guy. He is a charming companion. He has an extraordinary knowledge of fine French wines. Of course, his political birthright is working for Adlai Stevenson as a child, supporting George McGovern, electing odious characters like Jerry Nadler to Congress. But somewhere along the way, I guess Dick found religion and today he is a conservative. Someone actually told me that he is an evangelical Christian. He's a very, very bright guy. Although I agree with Bill Clinton. Dick has 10 ideas, eight of them will absolutely blow up in your face. And the other two are brilliant. So he's a very smart guy, he's got a lot of experience. He is, I think he has been wrong about some things, but when it comes to the Clintons, he was in close. He did work on their gubernatorial campaigns. He saw the interplay in their dysfunctional relationship. And I think he's largely credible.

    Stone previously called Morris a “raging asshole,” a “fraud,” “NOT a conservative,” and an “odious little creep.” He said Morris has “no credibility,” “is full of shit,” “would work for Hitler if it paid,” and isn’t even like “a stopped clock---he isn't even right twice a day.” He added that “someone just needs to shoot Dick Morris,” “Those who RT [retweet] Dick Morris should be put to death with the Taliban,” and “Maybe we could make a deal to turn Dick Morris over to the Muslim Brotherhood in return for peace.”

    Here are 20 tweets Stone has written about Dick Morris in the years before this election cycle.

  • Politico’s Morning Media: WSJ Editors Reminded To Be “Fair” To Trump

    Reminder Comes After Murdoch Reportedly Becomes “An Official Donald Trump Supporter”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerry Baker instructed editors “to be ‘fair’ to [presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald] Trump” during a recent meeting, according to Politico’s Morning Media tip sheet.

    It was recently reported that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the Journal’s parent company News Corp., was throwing his full support behind Trump, and that Fox News -- also under the News Corp. umbrella -- “will go easy on Trump.” Murdoch took to Twitter in March to argue the GOP “would be mad not to unify” around the presumptive Republican nominee. And Murdoch’s New York Post was the third newspaper to endorse Trump, following The National Enquirer and The New York Observer (which is owned by Trump’s son-in-law).

    Politico reported that the Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerry Baker “took a couple minutes to remind editors to be ‘fair’ to Trump,” because “no matter what people think of him, Trump’s a serious candidate.” According to Politico, Baker’s comments were taken by some editors “as an insult or admonition,” and opened the argument over whether the Journal, which “is generally seen as impervious” to Murdoch’s influence, will start to signal support for Trump. From Politico’s May 27 Morning Media tip sheet: 

    TRUMP TREATMENT: Now that Rupert Murdoch is reportedly an official Donald Trump supporter (http://nym.ag/1V7TyF5), Murdoch Kremlinologists will be even more hyper-attuned to coverage of the GOP nominee in the News Corp. chairman’s American newspapers. Here’s something that might make their ears perk up: During one of The Wall Street Journal’s recent morning news meetings, editor in chief Gerry Baker took a couple minutes to remind editors to be “fair” to Trump, according to a source with direct knowledge of the remarks, because, Baker said, no matter what people think of him, Trump’s a serious candidate and lots of serious people are going to get behind his White House bid.

    The source described Baker’s Trump talk as a “surreal tangent” in a meeting normally reserved for ironing out the logistics of covering the day’s top stories.The source also said the comments were widely discussed among Journal editors and bureau chiefs, some of whom took them as an insult or admonition. A Journal spokeswoman declined to comment.

    While Murdoch is known for using some of his publications in the U.S., U.K. and Oz to influence politics, the Journal is generally seen as impervious. Plus Murdoch had appeared to be at odds with Trump for much of this election cycle, and Trump has railed against the Journal’s coverage of his campaign. But maybe that’s changing? Last week, the Journal’s right-leaning editorial board—which operates independently of the newsroom—seemed to signal support for Trump’s would-be Supreme Court nominees (http://politi.co/20rZHeK).

  • Vince Foster’s Sister In Wash. Post: “Trump Should Be Ashamed” For Pushing Murder Conspiracy Theory

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The sister of late White House deputy counsel Vince Foster wrote a Washington Post op-ed strongly condemning presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for reviving the conspiracy theory that the Clintons killed her brother.

    Trump recently told the Post that the circumstances of Foster’s death were “very fishy” and Foster “knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.”

    Sheila Foster Anthony responded to Trump’s “wrong,” “irresponsible,” and “cruel” remarks in a May 26 piece headlined, "Vince Foster was my brother. Donald Trump should be ashamed." She wrote: “For Trump to raise these theories again for political advantage is wrong. I cannot let such craven behavior pass without a response.”

    She noted that five investigations concluded that Foster’s death was a suicide and he “told me he was battling depression” days before he committed suicide.

    “Never for a minute have I doubted that was what happened,” she added.

    Anthony noted that after Foster’s death, she began to read “countless conspiracy theories spun by those who claimed that the Clintons had Vince murdered because he knew something about Whitewater” and “These outrageous suggestions have caused our family untold pain because this issue went on for so long and these reports were so painful to read.”

    Asked about Anthony’s op-ed, Trump today said, “I really know nothing about the Vince Foster situation.” He also claimed it shouldn’t be a part of the campaign “unless some evidence to the contrary of what I’ve seen comes up.”

    Leading conservative media figures and outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News have pushed conspiracy theories about Foster and the Clintons in the years after his death.

    While many reporters condemned Trump’s remarks as “bizarre” and “kooky,” his reference to the Foster conspiracy theory drew praise from fringe conservative media.

    Conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones on May 24 claimed “there’s a cover-up going on, so we don’t know what it is, but that’s good for an open investigation with the death. .... The Clintons thought they would just have their past not looked at, but Donald Trump is willing to do it.” Jones is one of Trump’s most vocal allies and has hosted the candidate on his program.

    WND, best known for obsessing over President Obama’s birth certificate, recently claimed that Trump’s conspiracy is “backed by new evidence.” The site’s 2015 “man of the year” was none other than Donald Trump, who called the accolade an “amazing honor.”

  • The Fall Of The GOP Establishment In Jennifer Rubin Headlines, Continued

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    When last we left GOP establishment mainstay and Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin, she was engaging in a hairpin turn from deriding Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for standing in the way of Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) presidential run to praising Cruz and urging Rubio to drop out in order to stop Donald Trump from gaining the Republican presidential nomination.

    Since then, the establishment’s collapse has only accelerated. Trump has gained enough delegates to clinch the nomination, the Republican Party’s elected leaders are rallying around him, and the #NeverTrump crowd has failed miserably in its efforts to find a “true conservative” candidate willing to run as an independent.

    Rubin has responded with increasingly frantic suggestions, calls, and most recently demands for someone -- anyone -- to step up and save the GOP establishment now that GOP primary voters have kicked it to the curb. Watch the progression through a sampling of headlines from Rubin's Washington Post Right Turn blog over the past 10 days, from her statement that she is “breaking up” with the GOP to today's declaration that Mitt Romney is “out of excuses” not to “save the country” with a third run for president:

    May 16:

     

    May 17:

     

    May 18:

     

    May 19:

     

    May 20:

     

    May 23:

     

    May 25:

     

    May 26:

     
     
  • Mic Highlights The “Sinister Extremists” Ted Cruz Helped Mainstream

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Mic reporter Tom McKay explained that, while Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) “presidential ambitions died” in May, his “large, well-funded and well-connected conservative network” made up of “sinister extremists,” conservative talk radio hosts, and “far-right think tank” leaders will survive long after his presidential bid.

    Cruz’s 2016 presidential bid gained early support from talk radio hosts like Steve Deace and Michael Berry, each who have long records of espousing extremist, bigoted rhetoric. Deace has accused Democrats of leading a “war on whites” and warned of an army of jihadists coming to take over America to argue for a higher white birth rate. Berry has a record of racially charged rhetoric, including describing black people as “jungle animals,” referring to protesting University of Missouri football players as “thugs,” and mocking victims of Chicago gun violence. As Media Matters’ Angelo Carusone explained, “Powerful media hosts like Deace used their ties with the [Cruz] campaign ‘to advance their own cache and appeal to their audiences and reinforce their own relevancy.’”

    The May 26 Mic article highlighted these figures and explained that the rise of Cruz’s network “will likely linger long after the initial rush has faded.” The article also pointed out that “Cruz was part of a ‘cumulative effect’ driving other candidates, including Trump, to the right,” which has allowed Trump’s campaign to have “‘really inspired proper right wing extremists … to climb out from under the political rocks in which they have been hiding.’”  

    From the May 26 Mic piece:                

    Unlike other Republican contenders this year, Cruz busied himself building a large, well-funded, and well-connected conservative network. Some of these boosters and advisers will go on to play a role in the Trump campaign, while others may become future standard-bearers of the ideological conservative movement.

    Cruz "put a lot of emphasis in sort of delegating the organizing to the media figures and to the leaders within those spaces," said Angelo Carusone, executive vice president of progressive media watchdog Media Matters. "People like [radio hosts] Steve Deace in Iowa and Michael Berry in Texas, Glenn Beck, these are people that one, he's pumped a fairly large amount of money into advertising his programming ... they're serving as a validator for him and they're doing their very best to convert their audiences."

    [...]

    Michael Berry is one of the most important figures in talk radio in Houston, Texas, where he uses his platform to spread racially charged opinions on young black kids who have run-ins with the police ("jungle animals"), Islamic culture ("forced genital mutilation") and Black Lives Matter (a "pro-thug narrative"). One of the regularly occurring segments of his show is appearances from a blackface performer using the stage name Shirley Q. Liquor, whose act has been repeatedly protested as racist.

    [...]

    "The more candidates tout him as important (as Cruz does regularly), the more his language becomes commonplace and becomes part of what is considered acceptable on the right," wrote Media Matters Associate Research Director Sal Colleluori in an email to Mic. "This is of extreme value to Cruz specifically, but even Trump. The more we mainstream anti-immigrant and anti-African-American language, the more their base of support is used to hearing — and sympathizing with — these extreme notions."

    [...]

    Steve Deace, a nationally syndicated radio host originally based out of Iowa, boasts an audience of tens of thousands of listeners. They tune in to hear the self-declared alpha male rant about the "manginas" in charge of today's GOP, suggest that a "whole generation of women [is] on the lookout for some alpha males" and cast Republican leadership's mission as "pass Obama's agenda, lie to conservatives, defraud voters and total capitulation."

    [...]

    Deace's influence in Iowa helped Cruz obtain a crucial victory in the state — which plays a crucial role in shaping media perceptions of viability due to its early primary dates — by helping mobilize a small but vocal vanguard of far-right activists in conjunction with other organizers like U.S. Rep. Steve King and evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats. According to the Des Moines Register, Deace was a key leader of a team of 12,000 volunteers who made 25,000 calls and 2,000 home visits daily in the days leading to the vote. He has simultaneously used his prominence to land key appearances on national media, where he tones down the rhetoric to make him and Cruz seem more reasonable.

    [...]

    According to Matthew Feldman, a professor of fascist ideology at Teesside University, Cruz was part of a "cumulative effect" driving other candidates, including Trump, to the right.

    "In most people's lifetimes there hasn't been a frontrunning candidate who has pushed so many far-right buttons as Trump, or for that matter, Ted Cruz," Feldman wrote. "But it is only Trump's campaign that has really inspired proper right wing extremists, who have found the broken taboos around race, political violence and conspiracy theory a real boon for their brand of revolutionary politics. It is the first time in more than a generation they have been able to climb out from under the political rocks in which they have been hiding."