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  • NRA Filmed Its Rule-Breaking Pro-Trump Ad At Alexandria National Cemetery

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A controversial National Rifle Association ad filmed at a military cemetery in violation of government policy was shot at Alexandria National Cemetery.

    On June 30, the NRA Political Victory Fund launched a $2 million ad buy in swing states. The ad features veteran Mark Geist -- a survivor of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks -- as he walks in and stands in front of a national cemetery.

    Because of the distinctive fencing and foliage, Media Matters can identify the cemetery as Alexandria National Cemetery. A Friday visit to the cemetery confirmed it as the location for the ad.

    The cemetery is located in Old Town, Alexandria, which is also the headquarters for NRA News and the site of an office of Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s ad firm.

    It is a violation of government policy to film a political ad at a national cemetery. In recent years, several political ads have been pulled because they were filmed in national cemeteries.

    Facing questions over where it filmed the ad, the NRA previously declined to tell ABC News where it was filmed, other than to say it was not filmed at Arlington National Cemetery.

    In the ad, Geist says, “A lot of people say they’re not going to vote this November because their candidate didn’t win. Well I know some other people who won’t be voting this year either.” The ad then shows footage of Alexandria National Cemetery.

     

     

    The ad goes on to use the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks to criticize Clinton and ends with a graphic that says “Trump 2016.”

    The area where Geist is shown walking and pausing at a gravesite is largely filled with Civil War era graves. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Alexandria National Cemetery is one of the original 14 national cemeteries established in 1862. The first burials made in the cemetery were soldiers who died during training or from disease in the numerous hospitals around Alexandria. By 1864, the cemetery was nearly filled to capacity, which eventually led to the planning, development and construction of Arlington National Cemetery.”

    Geist uploaded a photo to his Instagram page in May with the caption, “Alexandria National Cemetery visiting fallenpatriots from the civil war.#13hours #benghazi #markozgeist#neverhillary.”

    The ad has been criticized by veterans groups. VotVets.org has called for the ad to be taken down, while a national spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars said, "Don’t use our dead to score political points." 

  • Univision Lifts Up LGBT Voices In Its Coverage Of The Pentagon Repealing Ban On Transgender Military Service

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Univision’s late night news program continued Hispanic media’s trend of uplifting LGBT voices in its reporting on the Pentagon’s announcement that it is lifting its ban on transgender people openly serving in the military.

    On June 30, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Department of Defense would no longer forbid openly transgender people from serving in the military. In its report on the announcement, Univision's late night news program, Noticiero Univision: Edició​n Nocturna, hosted Antonia Pandilla, a transgender woman who served in the Air Force from 1978 to 1982, to talk about her experience serving under the ban. Contrasting right-wing media’s attacks on the policy change, Univision host Arantxa Loizaga described the end of the ban as “a victory for the LGBT community.” Coverage like this is yet another indication of how Hispanic media is improving its reporting on LGBT issues and making the effort to include transgender voices.

    From the June 30 edition of Univision’s Noticiero Univision: Edición Nocturna (translated from Spanish):

    ARANTXA LOIZAGA (HOST): In the United States armed forces, there are transgender soldiers but until today, they were not able to act openly. The Pentagon lifted a provision in light of the Defense Secretary’s idea that he has been pushing for more than a year. Andrea Linares tells us what this means.

    [START AUDIO]

    DEFENSE SECRETARY ASH CARTER: Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly.

    [END AUDIO]

    ANDREA LINARES: The announcement is historic. The Pentagon will allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the armed forces, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

    [START AUDIO]

    CARTER: These new measures will be implemented throughout the next year.

    [END AUDIO]

    LINARES: It is expected that by October 1 transgender soldiers can receive the medical treatment related to their sex change, and effective July 2017 the armed forces will allow the enlistment of new transgender members as long as they comply with the physical and psychological requirements required of any other member.

    ANTONIA PADILLA: I have been living two lives, the life of a man in the day and the life of a woman at night.

    LINARES: This is Antonia Padilla. She was born as a man in San Antonio, Texas, but she identifies as a woman. She was married for six years, had a daughter, and also served in the air force from 1978 to 1982.

    PADILLA: Ten years ago, I said I'm not going to have falsehoods, I'm going to live honestly, I'm going to live like the woman that I am.

    LINARES: Currently, Antonia works as a photographer. She says that it was difficult to live in the shadows when she was in the armed forces, but she never felt that this impeded her from carrying out her duties.

    PADILLA: I am very happy that finally this decision is reality.

    LINARES: A study done by RAND Corporation under the direction of Sec. Ash Carter found that of the 1.3 million active members of the army, almost 2,500 are transgender. But up until now, they have had to deny their condition in order to avoid being expelled from the military world, a situation that is now a thing of the past. The study also revealed that the medical expenses and the sex change operations will cost the Pentagon between $2.9 million and $4.2 million annually. They fear that not assuming this expense could result in a higher rate of substance abuse and suicides among transgender individuals. It's worth mentioning that the army has a budget of $610 million. Arantxa, back to you.

    LOIZAGA: Andrea, thank you, a victory for the LGBT community.

    While Univision’s decision to feature a transgender guest is part of the growing move towards more responsible coverage of the LGBT community by Hispanic media, the segment’s use of the word “condition” to innaccurately describe being transgender shows that there is still room to improve. The failure to use accurate, sensitive language when covering the transgender community isn’t isolated to Univision. While uplifting transgender voices is part of improving reporting on transgender people, Hispanic media should continue to look to guidelines from groups like GLAAD for how to improve the quality of coverage when reporting on transgender issues.

  • Slate Highlights How Trickle-Down Economics Wreaked Havoc In Kansas

    Kansas Transportation Secretary Resigns After Tax Cuts Put Agency In Financial Peril

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Slate has joined The New York Times and The Kansas City Star in highlighting what’s wrong with Kansas’ “insane right-wing experiment” of drastically cutting taxes, explaining that the Republican-led state “is about to destroy its roads.”

    In 2012, Republican Kansas lawmakers led by Gov. Sam Brownback enacted a series of tax cuts -- described by the Star editorial board as “disastrous” and the Times editorial board as “ruinous” -- that deeply cut revenue streams without generating the strong economic growth conservatives promised would follow. Instead, the state has fallen into financial crisis leading to a painful credit downgrade, a massive budget shortfall, and a “negative” credit outlook for the future. Brownback’s tax cut policies were nonetheless endorsed by right-wing media personalities and created a model for other conservative politicians to follow.

    On June 30, Slate reported that Brownback had announced the resignation of his state’s secretary of transportation, Mike King, marking the latest casualty of Kansas’ failed experiment with trickle-down economics. According to Slate, the reason King is leaving may be that the state has taken $2 billion from the Kansas Department of Transportation’s reserve funds to close gaps elsewhere in the budget. Former Kansas transit secretary Deb Miller cautioned that the “weakened revenue stream” would be “more subject to political whim.” From Slate (emphasis added):

    Kansas has had trouble paying for much of anything since 2012, when conservative legislators decided to implement a bevy of right-wing economic policies—and lead their state into a fiscal crisis.

    In order to keep funding its government despite dramatically decreased tax revenue, the legislature has flipped all their piggy banks. One of them is the Kansas Department of Transportation—or what sarcastic Kansans now call “the Bank of KDOT,” for the stupendous quantity of money that has been diverted from its coffers to the Kansas general fund and state agencies.

    [...]

    On Wednesday, Brownback announced that Mike King, the secretary of KDOT, would be resigning this month. King, who was appointed in 2012, has presided over a rather unusual period in Topeka finance.

    Since 2011, according to the Kansas City Star, the state has diverted over $1 billion in “extraordinary” transfers from KDOT. If you include “routine” transfers, from 2011 through the 2017 budget year the total diversion from the Bank of KDOT will amount to more than $2 billion.

    That’s more than KDOT’s annual expenditures. It’s as if the state, which has the fourth largest number of public road miles in the nation, had taken away a full year of road funding.

    [...]

    King’s predecessor, Deb Miller, told the Topeka Capital-Journal this week that King “started as KDOT secretary at a time when the agency had a well-defined and solidly financed statewide highway program. He exits an agency deeper in debt and with a weakened revenue stream more subject to political whim.”

    Brownback’s legacy will be grander, but we could call this the Mike King doctrine: Plugging holes in the budget; leaving holes in the road.

  • Veterans’ Groups Call Out The NRA: "Don't Use Our Dead To Score Political Points"

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Veterans’ groups are criticizing the National Rifle Association for releasing a pro-Donald Trump ad that was apparently filmed at a national cemetery in violation of government policy, calling for the ad to be taken down and accusing the gun group of “using our dead to score political points.”

    The ad, launched Thursday by the NRA Political Victory Fund, features veteran Mark Geist –- a survivor of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks -- as he walks in and stands in front of a national cemetery; the graves of military personnel are featured prominently.

    During the ad, Geist attacks the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, saying, “Hillary as President? No thanks. I served in Benghazi. My friends didn’t make it. They did their part. Do yours.” The ad ends with a graphic supporting Trump.

    As ABC News reported, the ad is in apparent violation of Department of Veterans Affairs’ “strict prohibition of filming campaign ads on national cemetery property that contains the graves of military personnel, veterans and their spouses.”

    Jessica Schiefer, public affairs officer for the National Cemetery Administration, told Media Matters the NRA did not seek permission to film at a national cemetery, and that they would have rejected the request had they received one.

    “To date, the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has not received or approved any filming requests of this nature,” she said via email. “NCA did not receive a request from the NRA to film the subject advertisement. If we had received such a request, we would have denied it based on the partisan content. Partisan activities are prohibited on national cemetery grounds as they are not compatible with preserving the dignity and tranquility of the national cemeteries as national shrines."

    She added, “As always, our Veterans, their families and survivors are our top priority. To maintain the sanctity and decorum of VA National Cemeteries as national shrines, our filming policy states that filming may not be used for the expression of partisan or political viewpoints, or for uses that are (or may be interpreted as) an endorsement of a commercial entity.”

    NRA officials did not respond to several requests for comment, but told ABC News the ad was filmed outside of the cemetery, although they declined to reveal where exactly it was made. (The NRA’s attempt to claim the ad was filmed “outside” the cemetery makes little sense, considering Geist is shown walking among headstones.)

    In addition to the apparent violation of government policy, the NRA ad has triggered outrage among some veterans groups, who contend it is improper. 

    “Don’t use our dead to score political points,” Joe Davis, a Veterans of Foreign Wars national spokesman and an Air Force veteran of Desert Storm, told Media Matters. “We fought for everybody’s First Amendment rights and everything, but we don’t want any candidate using our dead to score political points.”

    Jon Soltz, an Iraq War Veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org, responded with a statement that said, "This ad should be taken down immediately. It is insensitive to those buried at the cemetery -- most, if not all, of whom died before Benghazi, and many of whom may not have been NRA supporters. Further, it violates Veterans Affairs policy. It should be taken down."

    Despite apparently violating government policy, there is no indication the NRA plans to pull the advertisement, which is reportedly being backed by $2 million and is scheduled to run in several key battleground states over the next two weeks.

    In contrast to the NRA, several previous political ads that aired images and footage from national cemeteries were either altered or removed. In 1999, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign aired an ad featuring unauthorized footage filmed at Arlington National cemetery -- the campaign apologized and recut the ad to remove the footage. More recently, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) pulled a 2014 ad that was filmed at a North Dakota veterans’ cemetery.

  • CNN’s Corey Lewandowski Claims Donald Trump's Alleged Solicitations To Foreign Nationals Are “Perfectly Legal”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Amid allegations that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign is illegally soliciting donations from foreign nationals, new CNN political commentator and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski claimed that it was actually “perfectly legal”  because the individuals had "opted into" Trump’s email list. Lewandowski’s explanation suggests either he is misleading CNN's audience in order to defend Trump or he is ignorant on the issue.

    Talking Points Memo reported on June 29 that elected officials from the U.K., Australia, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland have complained about receiving fundraising emails from Trump’s campaign. Talking Points Memo also reported that two watchdog groups announced they would be filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging “that the Donald Trump campaign has broken federal law by sending fundraising emails to foreign elected officials.”

    CNN host Alisyn Camerota asked Lewandowski about the allegations and the FEC complaint on the July 1 edition of New Day, noting it’s “illegal to be soliciting donations from foreign leaders or foreigners.” Lewandowski claimed that it was “perfectly legal” because those who received a fundraising email “opted into” the campaign’s “email system.”

    CNN has drawn extensive criticism for hiring Lewandowski as a political commentator after he was fired from the Trump campaign, due in part to questions over whether Lewandowski had signed a nondisclosure agreement before he left the campaign, which could prohibit him from criticizing the presumptive Republican nominee.

  • Wash. Post Reporter: CNN’s Lewandowski “Has Not Yet Transitioned Out Of His Role As A Trump Employee”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an article in The Washington Post, politics and media reporter Callum Borchers said recently fired Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was recently hired as a political contributor to CNN, “has not yet transitioned out of his role as a Trump employee.” According to Borchers, “Lewandowski's failure to contribute meaningful insight and analysis — even from a pro-Trump perspective” — in his appearances on CNN “makes his performances truly underwhelming,” and CNN’s “hosts have appeared frustrated, at times, by their inability to get anything useful out of Lewandowski.”

    CNN has faced criticism and “ethical questions” from numerous media experts and analysts. Even Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz called CNN’s choice to bring Lewandowski on as political contributor “a sad move” that doesn’t help “CNN’s credibility in covering Donald Trump.” Moreover, Lewandowski recently lost a book deal with publishing company HarperCollins because of “concerns about Lewandowski’s nondisclosure agreement” with the Trump campaign, a document CNN had reported on prior to hiring Lewandowski.

    Now, in an article titled “Corey Lewandowski’s first week on CNN was just as bad as everyone expected,” Borchers wrote that in his appearances on CNN, Lewandowski often changed “the subject to predetermined talking points” and that he “remains prone to spouting fiction and doesn't stay on-topic, grinding segments to a halt as CNN hosts have to correct his misinformation or interject to steer the conversation back to the point.” From The Washington Post’s July 1 article (emphasis original):

    A week isn't very long to learn a new job, so it's possible Corey Lewandowski will improve in his role as a CNN commentator. But so far, Donald Trump's recently fired campaign manager is just plain bad — and not only for the reasons many anticipated.

    [...]

    Yet it is Lewandowski's failure to contribute meaningful insight and analysis — even from a pro-Trump perspective — that makes his performances truly underwhelming. Here's a representative exchange from "New Day" in which host Alisyn Camerota asked Lewandowski and former New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn, a Hillary Clinton supporter, about Trump's recent trip to Scotland.

    [...]

    Lewandowski deflected and pivoted to other subjects, knocking Clinton for a campaign ad and praising Trump for supporting his son's work on a golf course project. By the end, he had somehow invented a scenario in which the question was about criticism of Trump, rather than criticism by Trump.

    This is what a spokesman might do — changing the subject to predetermined talking points. But Lewandowski doesn't work for Trump anymore; he works for CNN. He needs to at least talk about whatever CNN wants to talk about and not try to hijack the conversation. His employer asked him a question and wanted his analysis of it, and he didn't deliver.

    The cable channel's hosts have appeared frustrated, at times, by their inability to get anything useful out of Lewandowski.

    [...]

    For the most part, however, Lewandowski is bad television. He remains prone to spouting fiction and doesn't stay on-topic, grinding segments to a halt as CNN hosts have to correct his misinformation or interject to steer the conversation back to the point.

    In short, Lewandowski has not yet transitioned out of his role as a Trump employee, and it has already reportedly cost him one post-campaign payday. Politico reported this week that HarperCollins rescinded a $1.2 million book offer over concerns that Lewandowski would not provide much insight, partly because of his nondisclosure agreement and partly because he was fired more than four months before Election Day.

    CNN is more willing to give Lewandowski a shot. But right now, he's not enhancing their coverage in the least.

  • Hannity Helps Trump Lie To Claim He Didn’t Attack Hillary Clinton's Faith

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Sean Hannity called Donald Trump’s claim that he “never attacked” Hillary Clinton’s religious beliefs “honest,” despite Trump arguing that “we don’t know much about Hillary in terms of her religion” nine days earlier.

    While criticizing Clinton on the June 30 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, Donald Trump argued he never attacked her faith, claiming he only said he knew nothing about it. Hannity replied saying “that’s an honest answer”:

    SEAN HANNITY: Can you imagine if you're the one -- she's that programmed that they actually put in how she should act after she gives a line. I don't know what -- if you did it, it would be -- it would be a bigger story.

    DONALD TRUMP: They thought it was so cute, it was so wonderful. They were saying, oh, isn't that cute? Isn't that nice? Isn't that wonderful? Can you imagine if I did it?

    HANNITY: No.

    TRUMP: I never noticed that on teleprompter. When I do a teleprompter, they don't put sigh. You're supposed to be who you are. Can you imagine sigh? And let me tell you, I never attacked her faith. A question was asked about her faith. I said I know nothing about it. I wasn't saying that in a good way or a bad. I really know nothing about her faith.

    HANNITY: Well, that's an honest answer.

    TRUMP: I would never attack her faith. So, I just want to let that be clear.

    But during comments made by Trump to a June 21 gathering of evangelical Christian leaders Trump said that despite Clinton being in the public eye for decades, “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion,” and suggested that people keep their “guard up” even more than they have with President Obama:

    Speaking to a group of top social conservative evangelical Christian leaders at a gathering in New York City, Trump said, “we don't know anything about Hillary in terms of religion.” “Now, she's been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there's no — there's nothing out there,” Trump said. “There's like nothing out there. It's going to be an extension of Obama but it's going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don't, and it's going to be worse.”

  • On Alex Jones, Author Gary Byrne Speculates About Clintons Murdering People (And Whether They’ll Murder Him)

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Former Secret Service officer Gary Byrne suggested on Alex Jones’ conspiracy radio show that the Clintons may murder him over his anti-Clinton book and pointed to “rumors of people that have had accidents” in Arkansas. Byrne also said he wouldn’t be “surprise[d]” if Jones’ theory that the administration let the Benghazi attacks happen on purpose to have Ambassador Chris Stevens “whacked” was true

    Byrne recently released the book Crisis of Character, which argues that Hillary Clinton doesn’t have the temperament to be president and invokes decades-old conservative media conspiracy theories about the Clintons (including regarding the death of White House aide Vince Foster). Media have discredited the book, finding that it’s a “rehash of old rumors,” there’s “holes in his story,” and his allegations are “contradicted by his own testimony.” Secret Service veterans have also cast doubt on Byrne’s credibility, arguing he “could never have seen any of what he claims.”

    He appeared on the June 30 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show to promote the book. Jones is a pro-Trump radio host and the proprietor of Infowars.com. He is well-known for believing in toxic conspiracy theories about national tragedies, including the Oklahoma City bombing, Boston Marathon bombing, the Newtown, CT, school shooting, and 9/11.

    Jones began the interview by telling Byrne, “I hope you don’t have any car accidents or airplane accidents or anything because the Clintons are organized criminals in my view and there’s a lot of death around them. … you’re putting your life on the line here.” Jones later added that he hopes Byrne has taken out life insurance, to which Byrne replied: “We knew what we were getting into and we’ve taken our precautions and did our due diligence. We’ll keep our fingers crossed”:

    ALEX JONES: Mr. Byrne, I hope you don’t have any car accidents or airplane accidents or anything because the Clintons are organized criminals in my view and there’s a lot of death around them. But I’m going to stop right there. Mr. Byrne, thank you so much for coming on. CrisisofCharacterbook.com, let’s go to the waterfront here. Tell us -- I mean, you’re putting your life on the line here. I think that goes unsaid.

    GARY BYRNE: Thank you.

    […]

    JONES: Well you know FBI agents that worked in the White House and others have been audited, harassed, all sorts of things have happened. I don’t want to get into speculation areas here.

    BYRNE: Sure, sure.

    JONES: But making the decision with you and your family to write this book, I mean really nobody else has the huevos to do this. Maybe one other person. I mean I’ve got to say, sir, I really hope you’ve got a big insurance policy taken out for your family.

    BYRNE: Yeah, so we knew what we were getting into and we’ve taken our precautions and did our due diligence. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

    […]

    And it’s not just about her crisis of character. It’s a little bit about my crisis of character, too, the process of deciding to do this and putting yourself and your family at this kind of risk.

    JONES: Yeah, I can hear it in your voice. You have really put yourself at risk, folks. I hope listeners understand this is not a game.

    Byrne later pushed the conspiracy theory that the Clintons had people murdered in Arkansas. He related the story of him talking to an unnamed deputy from Arkansas, stating:

    BYRNE: The guy looked at me, I mean right through me, and he said, “Let me tell you something, Gary. These guys can spin manure into gold. Everything you hear about them is true. Believe it. And he [President Clinton] will get elected, and he’ll be there eight years.”

    And this guy was as serious as a heart attack. And then he told me all these bizarre stories about all these rumors of people that have had accidents, the stuff that you were referring to before. So yeah, I definitely think that if she gets elected that we’re going to see the crazy stuff we’ve seen for the last eight years is going to unfortunately look like a walk in the park.

    Jones told Byrne that the Benghazi attacks were “on purpose to ship the missiles to Al Qaeda,” and that the administration had Ambassador Stevens “whacked” when he refused to go along with the plan. Byrne responded that “nothing would surprise me anymore” and agreed with Jones that Clinton is “evil.”

    JONES: You’re just too honorable of a guy, brother, to see that Benghazi was on purpose to ship the missiles to Al Qaeda to take over Syria and the Turkish ambassador was there that morning and Ambassador Stevens said no, so they pulled the security and had him whacked. But I’m not going to get off on a rabbit trail, it's just that she’s way more evil --

    BYRNE: Right.

    JONES: Than I think you’re even getting at.

    BYRNE: No, well obviously she is and that’s not something I experienced, but I certainly believe that to be true. I mean nothing would surprise me anymore after what I saw those years, and what’s happened since then.

  • Even This Conservative Columnist Thinks Trump's Plan On Trade Is “A Scam”

    Steve Chapman: “It's A Scam, Skillfully Pitched To Fool The Gullible”

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Conservative Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman joined a chorus of media and policy experts from across the political spectrum in criticizing Donald Trump’s promise to bring back American manufacturing jobs by curbing free trade.

    Chapman slammed Trump on June 29 in the Chicago Tribune for the policies Trump outlined in a speech on trade one day earlier. Trump advocated against globalization and the lowering of trade barriers brought about by free trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and World Trade Organization (WTO). Trump referred to his trade policy ideas as a path toward “Declaring America’s Economic Independence,” which he claimed would lead to increased economic activity that would “Make America Wealthy Again.”

    Chapman chided Trump’s simplistic look at global commerce, saying, “It's a scam, skillfully pitched to fool the gullible,” and echoed criticism of Trump from economist and Economic Policy Institute (EPI) president Lawrence Mishel. While Mishel criticized Trump for whitewashing the Republican Party’s free trade legacy and ignoring progressive initiatives that would benefit American workers, Chapman pointed out that manufacturing output in the United States is actually “54 percent higher today” than it was when NAFTA went into effect in 1994 and “27 percent higher” than it was before China joined the WTO in 2001. Progressive organizations like EPI have highlighted the negative consequences that free trade arrangements have had on the American labor market -- specifically with regard to NAFTA and China -- but as Chapman notes, part of the decline in manufacturing employment is the result of greater efficiencies in production stemming from automation and technological advances; “companies have learned to produce more goods with fewer people.” From the Chicago Tribune (emphasis added):

    The vision Trump conjures is one of alluring simplicity. He promises to achieve "economic independence" by abandoning globalization, instead using American workers to produce American goods. This change, he said, would "create massive numbers of jobs" and "make America wealthy again."

    It's a scam, skillfully pitched to fool the gullible. His framework is a house of cards built on sand in a wind tunnel. Its most noticeable feature is a total divorce from basic economic realities.

    [...]

    In the first place, the expansion of manufacturing jobs is not synonymous with prosperity. As countries grow richer, manufacturing's share of employment declines. South Korea, singled out by Trump for killing American jobs, has seen it shrink by nearly half since 1991. Japan and Germany have followed a similar path.

    But U.S. manufacturing output is 54 percent higher today than in 1994 and 27 percent higher than in 2001. Those years are pertinent because 1994 was the year NAFTA took effect and 2001 is the year China gained entry to the World Trade Organization — events Trump portrays as catastrophic for American industry.

    Manufacturing jobs have vanished not because we don't manufacture anything but because companies have learned to produce more goods with fewer people. Higher productivity is what eliminated most of the jobs Trump mourns. He's no more capable of restoring them than he is of bringing back the dodo.

    [...]

    Blaming Mexico and China for the fate of our steel industry is like blaming email for the decline of telegrams. The biggest reduction in steel jobs came before the globalization of the past two decades. The number fell from 450,000 to 210,000 in the 1980s.

    The total today is about 150,000. Even if Trump could manage the impossible feat of doubling the number of steelmaking jobs, it would be a blip in the overall economy — which adds more jobs than that every month.

  • Did The Washington Post Just Violate Its Own Policy On Climate Science-Denying Letters?

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    The Washington Post published a letter to the editor by the Heritage Foundation’s Hans A. von Spakovsky that appears to directly violate the newspaper’s policy against publishing letters that deny the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change.

    In the June 29 letter, which took issue with a recent Post op-ed by Yale Law School Dean Robert Post, von Spakovsky asserted:

    [Robert Post] called global warming “perhaps the single most significant threat facing the future of humanity.” But human-induced global warming is unproven, not an undisputed fact.

    However, in 2013, the Post’s then-letters editor Michael Larabee told Mother Jones that the newspaper has a policy against running letters that flatly deny human activities are causing climate change. Larabee stated: “It's our policy as well not to run letters to the editor that are factually inaccurate, so we wouldn't publish a letter that simply says, 'there's no sign humans have caused climate change.' … That's a broad absolute that doesn't take into account the existence of large amounts of science indicating otherwise." Larabee is now the oped editor at the Post; Jamie Riley Kolsky is now the Post’s letters editor.

    Speaking to Media Matters in 2014, Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt said that climate science deniers would not be completely barred from the Post’s opinion pages. But Hiatt also reiterated that the Post seeks to avoid publishing letters that are “factually inaccurate,” which should certainly apply to von Spakovsky’s claim that “human-induced global warming is unproven.” At least 97 percent of climate scientists say that human activities such as burning fossil fuels are causing climate change, and scientists are as certain that human activities are driving global warming as they are that cigarettes can kill.

    To make matters worse, the Post also failed to disclose a glaring conflict of interest in von Spakovsky’s letter. The letter was a defense of ExxonMobil, which is currently under investigation by several attorneys general who are seeking to determine whether Exxon committed fraud by deliberately withholding truthful information about climate change from shareholders and the public in order to protect its profits. Yet the Post identified von Spakovsky only as a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, neglecting to mention that the Heritage Foundation has received almost $800,000 directly from Exxon since 1998.

    The letter by von Spakovsky also marked at least the fourth time that the Post has published the bogus claim the attorneys general investigating ExxonMobil for fraud are trampling the company’s First Amendment rights. If Exxon has indeed committed fraud, “its speech would not merit First Amendment protection,” as Yale’s Robert Post explained in his June 24 op-ed.